Greatest of These is Love

Recently I was blessed to go on a vision tour to Asia as part of the Discipleship Program.

Being able to go on this trip and see the work that God is doing on the mission field and that my life has been a part during my time in the Discipleship Program was an amazing privilege and a very impactful experience for me.

God used my time there to give me a greater understanding of the difference that the hope of Christ can make in the lives of those who are without hope and in desperate need. As we travelled to different areas of the mission field I saw much hopelessness and suffering and was reminded that Jesus is the only true Hope.

 I was challenged by the example of the missionaries I met there whose joy was to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around them, whose love for Jesus shines on their faces and whose unity and oneness enables them to effectively serve as a team. Men like one of the brothers we met who is serving in a slum ministry. This pastor has given his life to living amongst and serving the hurting and needy people in the slum. When we met *Pastor David during our visit there, I was struck by his love for the Lord and his dedication to reaching the people around Him with Jesus’ love. He and his wife live with just the bare necessities of life in the same condition as those they are ministering to in the slum.

Pastor David is the only Christian in his family. He shared with us how as a young person he got into the wrong crowd and his friends were a bad influence on his life. He was involved in lots of parties and drinking. A pastor came to his area looking for young men to mentor and to send to Bible School. He met David and some of his friends and began sharing about God’s love with them. The pastor asked them why they were destroying their lives and told them that God loved them and had something better for them to do. God used that conversation to speak to David’s heart and he made the decision to commit his life to Christ.

Now Pastor David is able to minister to other people who are living in the same hopeless condition that he was. We had the opportunity to attend a house church that he is leading in the slum and meet some of the believers who are there.  It was a blessing to worship alongside them and know that even though our cultures are worlds apart and we don't speak the same language, we can still worship the same God together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

*For security reasons name has been changed.

 



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I wrote a post over a year ago while I was in the US about being independent; you can read it here. The general idea behind what I wrote was that I needed to be okay with asking for help from those around me. This remains and stands true, but God has recently taken me one step further than that even.

In my walk with Jesus and growing to know Him more, I have come to the realization that I need to not only avoid being independent of those around me, but I need to stay very close to Jesus from one day to the next. As it says in the Psalms...

He only [is] my rock and my salvation; [He is] my defense; I shall not be moved. In God [is] my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, [And] my refuge, [is] in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God [is] a refuge for us. Selah

— Psalms 62:6-8 NKJV

...I need to be trusting in God always. Whenever temptation or my human frailty creeps up on me, I need to run back to Jesus.

Another verse that we are rather familiar with...

Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

— 1Thessalonians 5:17-18 NKJV

...is also an encouragement as it outlines exactly what I have found to be necessary in my life. Without going to Jesus on an almost hourly basis I have no strength to live a life that pleases Him.

As part of the Discipleship Program we've been reading The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Laurence. This book has been a great encouragement to me in my learning to walk closely to Jesus. Brother Laurence describes what it looked like for him to walk with Jesus; doing every act solely out of a deep, heartfelt love for God.

He also describes his challenges in this growth. I can see myself, toddling along, beside the great strides that he was taking. Of course, he had decades of experience and practice; just as in everything else, practice makes perfect.

This is my desire; to walk with Jesus daily, hourly, and minutely. If I'm not there yet (I'm not), I will keep going forward and growing as I walk. Maybe by the time I become a senior citizen I will have steps to match Brother Laurence.



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The past few weeks I have been reading through 1 and 2 Chronicles. I used to not really like studying the lives of the kings of Israel because honestly, I found them quite annoying. I mean, what was wrong with those guys? They just couldn’t seem to stay on track! There would one good king who would follow after the Lord with all his heart and after that would be 2 or 3 bad ones who would cause the whole nation to turn away from the Lord. They never seemed to be able to learn from the mistakes of those who went before them and it was almost like they wanted to bring trouble upon themselves.

Recently I have begun to gain a bit of a different perspective as God has been challenging me to see myself in the lives of those kings. It hasn’t necessarily made me like Chronicles more but it has certainly been eye-opening as I am learning that often I am a lot like those kings that I found so annoying! So many times, I make the same mistakes over and over, refusing to listen to the Lord’s voice and instead becoming focused on myself, my wants, desires, and will.

One verse that really stood out to me was 2 Chron. 12:14 which speaks about the downfall of King Rehoboam.  It says, “And he did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord." I noticed that seeking the Lord seemed to be the missing piece for those kings who went astray. Whether it was wealth, security, relationships or their own pride, somehow their focus was turned from following the Lord to going after their own ways.

I was reminded of the importance of keeping my focus in the right place when I had the opportunity to go horseback riding a few weeks ago. For horses there are so many possibilities for distraction when out on the trail. There are spooky holes and strange objects along the way, green grass to stop and eat, pesky flies and birds that come up out of the middle of nowhere. If a horse is well trained it knows that it must tune out everything else and focus in on one thing only, that is the cues that it receives from it’s rider. These can be verbal cues or physical touch, but it must be fully in tune with its rider in order to not miss the cues when they come.

In my experience, the person I was riding with had spent a lot of time with her horse so it was well trained and  sensitive to the voice of its rider. My horse on the other hand was older and hadn't been ridden much for several years. She was constantly wandering off track and seemed to be dulled to my commands. Her mind was only focused on one thing and that was getting back home so she could be free of her rider and go back to enjoying her horsey life!

In my own life God has been showing me that in order to not get turned aside by the many distractions that try to pull my heart away from Him I must stay sensitive to His voice and be attentive to His cues. These can come through  spending time in His Word,  being with others who are also seeking after Him or simply while in the day to day activities of life. If my heart is consumed with my own plans and desires it becomes so easy to wander off track and be dulled to the voice of the One who is leading me. God desires that I am continually walking in His presence in order that my heart might remain sensitive to His voice and leading.

Going back to Chronicles and the lives of Israel’s kings, I am encouraged to remember that no matter how many times I fail or refuse to listen to the Lord’s voice He never fails to draw me back to Himself. 2 Tim. 2:13 says “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” I am amazed by His abundant mercy and grace towards the Israelites. When they turned their hearts towards Him and began to seek His face He was always faithful to answer their cry. He could have just said that they deserved the trouble they got and left them in the mess they were in , which is what I would've wanted to do. Instead He promised that when they would humble themselves and seek His face, turning from their wicked ways, He would hear their cry and forgive them. I am so thankful that God in His mercy never leaves me where I am at but is continually working in my life to shape and mould me into His likeness.

 ~ Disciple in the Discipleship Program



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I’ve often wondered how different my life would be if I practically lived out Matthew 25:31-46. This portion of scripture is where Jesus is talking about the final judgement and how those that took care of people in need were welcomed into His kingdom and those who had not were condemned to death. This verse is what the Lord has been putting on my heart, which is causing me to look for ways to minister to those people around me. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ A few verses before this Jesus is shares the ways we can minister to those around us in need and He talks about visiting those who are in prison, clothing those that are naked, hungry and so on.

So, the question is, in what ways can I be Jesus to my neighbours and show love to them? I didn’t need to wait very long to see how to do that. Being part of the GFA Discipleship Program has given me many opportunities bless those around me which has brought much joy. As we were preparing for our first Community Outreach Event there was a growing anticipation in my heart and a bit of hesitation as well for what it would look like to interact with our neighbours. When it comes to crowds I get nervous and want to be behind the scenes; this wasn’t possible because I was assigned to lead the children activities.

Children

Much prayer and seeking the Lord was done beforehand to see what would spark an interest in our community and when all was said and done we hosted a Free Pancake Breakfast. There was much planning and prepping beforehand, making sure all the details came together and it seemed to bring our own home office even more together in getting everything ready, which was an added blessing. Many hands really do make work light.

The morning of our Community Event, which was in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday, came bright and early with both energetic and sleepy people to help setup for this special time. Soon our neighbours started coming and what fun it was to meet and greet everyone.

Colouring Contest Sign

Our morning was filled with delicious pancakes, good conversations, colouring contest and a pancake race for children of all ages. We were able to share a meal with our neighbours and show them the love of Jesus and it was over way to soon. There was such excitement inside my heart with how we had been able to bless our community that I am ready for the next event with less hesitation. My heart was filled with joy and I was not at all waiting for the morning to be done.



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A while ago I burned my finger while washing a hot frying pan. I’ve come very close several times in the past, but this time around I did actually burn my finger. After the initial “That’s hot!” and the resulting “Wow! My finger smarts!” I started looking at the blister that was rising on my finger.

discipleship-blog-finger-burn

First there was the interesting factor that the tip of my finger was half again its normal size. That was fun, especially for typing. But more seriously was the realization that the blister was there for a reason. It was a shield; protecting the smarting and sensitive skin underneath while my body healed. It was a sterile environment where my body could focus entirely on building a new patch of skin and not have to station extra security details in order to prevent germs and dirt from getting into my body. Granted that it was a burn and not a gaping wound; that would have been a completely different situation.

As I was thinking over these things, and having fun with peoples reactions to my oversized finger (Please pop it!, What is that on your finger?, That’s gross!) it also gave me a new sense of how much genius (the word doesn’t go nearly far enough) that God put into creating my body.

Then I moved on to some other injuries. Broken bones knit together, cuts heal over, food poisoning washes itself out of your digestive system, pretty much anything that doesn’t kill you will heal after a fashion. Doctors or surgeons may be required to make sure that your bones are straight after a broken leg, or to stitch a nastier than usual cut. But God has built our body to fix itself in a marvelous manner.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well.

— Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)


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