Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THE CROSS – LIVING SACRIFICIALLY - SELLING BLOOD-FOR MISSIONS

What is the task to which Jesus has called us? The task is none other than the words of what we call “The Great Commission." Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18–20)

Johnny Li, a former colleague and current missionary trainer in China shares about his meeting with two young pastors there:

As I entered the house, I surprised to observe the humble existence of these two mighty men of God. They were the leaders of house churches in their provinces, which had grown the past nine years to more than 200,000 Christians. They were both in their late twenties and even though they have been in the ministry since they were nineteen their enthusiasm reflected beautifully.

Everybody knew about the work of the Lord through these faithful servants. I also knew that they both spent several years in prison in extremely harsh conditions, but nothing prepared me for this humble home and modest lifestyle. There were no ornaments, and no beds in the small house. Their clothes were hanging on the wall due to a lack of cupboards. The only furniture was a table and a chair to sit on. There was a blanket on the ground that was obviously used as the bed. Together we sat down and I started questioning them about their activities and work that was bearing much fruit.

“How often do you travel to neighboring villages?” I asked. “As often as possible,” they replied.

“Where do you obtain your finances to do so?” “We sell what we have,” they replied and supplied me with an explanation to the question about the empty house which I dared not ask. “We sold the chairs and we sold the cupboard,” they continued. “And that supplied much-needed funds for our outreach.”

“What happens when you have nothing more to sell?”
One pastor looked sadly down to the ground and answered softly, “We find something else to sell.”

“But what?” I kept on pressuring them. “You have already sold everything and have nothing left to sell. How will you raise money now?”

Then came the startling answer. “We sell our blood on the black market. We get about five dollars but the need is so great that we have to do something to tell the people around us about Jesus.”

“How can you do this” I asked. “How can you justify selling your blood to send out missionaries?” Without hesitation they answered, “We have no choice! The need is so great!”

It's always a battle when we share Christ with others

The moment you accepted Jesus, you gained many new titles: child of the King, heir of the eternal Kingdom, Christ’s ambassador . . .

Do you ever think of yourself that way? As an ambassador to a culture based on an entirely separate foundation from our own? Because that’s just what you are!

It’s a dangerous assignment. Ambassadors to war-torn countries can become casualties, and we are nothing if not spiritually at war with the prince of this world. Millions of our brothers and sisters have already fallen victim, becoming conformers who have forgotten how to think biblically, imitating the soulless and superficial culture around them.

It’s safer to stay at home, within our own little Christian world, preaching to the choir. We can read only Christian books, watch only Christian media, make only Christian friends...and betray the One who touched lepers, ate with tax-collectors, and called us to follow in His footsteps.

Or we can equip ourselves to be in the world while refusing to be of it. We can steep ourselves in God’s Word so that everywhere we look, we discern the lies of our culture against a backdrop of Truth. Then we can use what we know to speak to the lost in a language they will understand.

This reminds us of the Bible in Acts 16, Paul was at "battle creek," fighting for the souls of those who had gathered on the riverside. Lydia and her family were converted, and then others were saved. But the battle for souls turned ugly when Paul was arrested and beaten. Yet even that led to other conversions and to the planting of a church in the city of Philippi.

It's always a battle when we share Christ with others. A spiritual conflict rages in heavenly places as we seek to win souls. But Jesus told us that as we trust Him, rivers of living water would flow from within us. Don't be afraid of the warfare. Seek the lost at any cost and bear your witness boldly for Christ today.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Brand-New You

The Brand-New You
by Max Lucado

What'all this talk about a new body? Do we change bodies? Is the new one different than this one? Will I recognize anyone? Will anyone recognize me?

"He will take these dying bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own" (Phil. 3:21 TLB).

Your body will be changed. You will not receive a different body; you will receive a renewed body. Just as God can make an oak out of a kernel or a tulip out of a bulb, he makes a "new" body out of the old one. A body without corruption. A body without weakness. A body without dishonor. A body identical to the body of Jesus.

Would you like a sneak preview of your new body? We have one by looking at the resurrected body of our Lord. After his resurrection, Jesus spent forty days in the presence of people. The resurrected Christ was not in a disembodied, purely spiritual state. On the contrary, he had a body—a touchable, visible body.

Jesus didn't come as a mist or a wind or a ghostly specter. He came in a body. A body that maintained a substantial connection with the body he originally had. A body that had flesh and bones. Real enough to walk on the road to Emmaus, real enough to appear in the form of a gardener, real enough to eat breakfast with the disciples at Galilee. Jesus had a real body. (Luke 24:13-35; John 20:10-18; John 21:12-14.)

At the same time, this body was not a clone of his earthly body. Mark tells us that Jesus "appeared in another form" (Mark 16:12 RSV). While he was the same, he was different. So different that Mary Magdalene, his disciples on the sea, and his disciples on the path to Emmaus did not recognize him. Though he invited Thomas to touch his body, he passed through a closed door to be in Thomas's presence. (John 20:14; John 21:1-4; Luke 24:16; John 20:26)

So what do we know about the resurrected body of Jesus? It was unlike any the world had ever seen.

What do we know about our resurrected bodies? They will be unlike any we have ever imagined.

Will we look so different that we aren't instantly recognized? Perhaps. (We may need nametags.) Will we be walking through walls? Chances are we'll be doing much more.

Will we still bear the scars from the pain of life? The marks of war. The disfigurements of disease. The wounds of violence. Will these remain on our bodies? That is a very good question. Jesus, at least for forty days, kept his. Will we keep ours? On this issue, we have only opinions, but my opinion is that we won't. Peter tells us that "by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pet. 2:24 NIV). In heaven's accounting, only one wound is worthy to be remembered. And that is the wound of Jesus. Our wounds will be no more.

God is going to renew your body and make it like his. What difference should this make in the way you live?

Your body, in some form, will last forever. Respect it.
You will live forever in this body. It will be different, mind you. What is now crooked will be straightened. What is now faulty will be fixed. Your body will be different, but you won't have a different body. You will have this one. Does that change the view you have of it? I hope so.

Your pain will NOT last forever. Believe it.
Are your joints arthritic? They won't be in
heaven.
Is your heart weak? It will be strong in heaven.
Has cancer corrupted your system? There is no cancer in heaven.
Are your thoughts disjointed? Your memory failing? Your new body will have a new mind.
Does this body seem closer to death than ever before? It should. It is. And unless Christ comes first, your body will be buried. Like a seed is placed in the ground, so your body will be placed in a tomb. And for a season, your soul will be in heaven while your body is in the grave. But the seed buried in the earth will blossom in heaven. Your soul and body will reunite, and you will be like Jesus.

From
When Christ Comes: The Beginning of the Very Best
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1999)
Max Lucado