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Tomorrow May Never Come

One of the catch phrases for our summer training programs is “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come. All we have is today. Spend it well.” Not original, of course, but it seems to be something we should remind ourselves of every day as we get involved in kingdom work.

The temptation is to always be looking at what is next and believe that when we get there our impact will begin. Here are some common ones that we have said or heard.

“Once I get out of school…”

“Once I have my loans paid off…”

“Once I am married…”

“Once I have my support raised…”

The truth is that we should be focused on impact today. We should be making the best of the opportunities along our path today because, “tomorrow may never come.”

But it’s more than just that fatalistic comment that should move us to get involved right now, right here. The people we encounter today may not cross our path again. The opportunities that we have today may never come again.

Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Psalm 118:24

Let’s not overlook it to get to the future. The future will come soon enough with opportunities and challenges of its own.

Reflect on this simple poem. Commit to make the very best of every moment of today. Make your life today a life that makes a difference in the world now AND tomorrow.

Yesterday cannot be changed

Tomorrow can’t be written

All we have is now, today

To use, to do, to live in

If this is true should we not give

More care to how we spend it

For time once used is time now gone

We cannot apprehend it

Prison and the Kingdom

Have you ever noticed how often prison is part of the growth of the kingdom in the New Testament? It seems like nearly everyone was in jail at some point. Peter and John were in prison early in the history of the church (Acts 4). Stephen was captured and then martyred. Peter spent more time in prison and was miraculously released by an angel (Acts 12). Paul and his companions spent their share of time in prisons.

Even today, in many places opposed to the gospel, kingdom workers spend time in prison, and worse. What things might we learn from this confusing relationship between prison time and kingdom work?

First, we must remember that God’s kingdom is a spiritual one. When we have an effect in the spiritual world we also engage in spiritual warfare. Some of that warfare is directly from our spiritual enemy, but some of it comes from the brokenness of the world, the evil present in it from selfishness, pride and the lust for power.

Second, some of the apostle’s prison time may be related to a need to slow down and write. This may be true for some of the current apostles’ stay in prisons today. Much of the New Testament was written from jail. Paul was the most prolific (at least to our knowledge from the letters chosen to be included in the NT). We know much of what we do about how to live this life of faith because Paul was slowed down enough to have time to write. In fact, it was the only way at that point to get his messages out to the people he was mentoring.

Third, suffering of many kinds develops our spiritual character. Yes, none of us wants to suffer. If we are parents, we don’t want our children to deal with it; but, without suffering our growth is limited and parts of our character are not developed. Suffering and hardship help build our faith as well. When we are weak, God’s real strength is shown.

Finally, prison time and other sufferings for the kingdom leads to glory for God. We have no idea how this happens, but that message is clear in scripture. The man born blind, whom Jesus healed, came into his condition so that God would be glorified through him. When the apostles were beaten because of their teaching they counted it a joy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Jesus tells Peter how he will glorify God in his death in John 21.

We might end here by saying that no one desires to be in prison or to suffer. That shouldn’t be a goal we have in our five-year plan. Our aim should be to obey, whatever the consequences. If loving others as Jesus told us to do results in suffering for us, then we suffer and praise God for it, using it for the advancement of the kingdom. Our life plan should be to follow the shepherd wherever he leads.

“Where he leads me, I will follow.”

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Instead, Love

Here we are, in the middle of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. Maybe you have decided to give up something for Lent. Many people do. How is that going so far? As you think about wanting the thing you gave up, we hope that you turn your focus instead on what Jesus gave up for us.

We would like to suggest a second focus for the second half of Lent. Instead of giving something else up, though, we want to take something up. We want to take up a commitment to respond to each situation with love.

It seems like we have plenty in our lives to be frustrated about … to get angry about. It may be something to do with politics, or faith, or our job, or a falling out in a relationship. Most of that negative reaction springs from one thing: selfishness. If we are human, we want things our way and we are convinced that our way is the right way.

Jesus is the way (and the truth and the life) and yet when people clearly not in his way met him, he did not judge them; instead, he loved them.

Will you make that your motto for the next two and a half weeks? Instead, Love!

What would it take to do something like that?

First, you will have to slow down. Many of us live our lives too fast to think about the ramifications of what we are doing and saying. We certainly don’t have time to actually think about how to love someone else. So, slow down and take a couple of cleansing physical, emotional and spiritual breaths.

Second, think about the people you will meet today, or tomorrow. Who are they? What are they about? What are they going through? If you don’t know those things, maybe the first loving think you can do is to ask them how they are doing and intently listen to their answers.

Third, commit to pray for them. You can tell them you are praying for them if you want but you don’t have to. Praying, as critical and important as it is, is not the end. It is just the beginning.

Fourth, take the time to consider what you could do for them that would make a difference in their lives. What action could you take? How could you stand in the gap for them? How could you come to their aid or support them? What would loving them look like?

Finally, consider what sacrifice of time, energy and resources it will require of you to love them well. Commit to make those sacrifices and then do it.

Wow. Taking up something for Lent ended up with sacrificing something for Lent. Who knew we would end up here? In reality, you are not sacrificing these things for Lent but for another four-letter word. Love.

Instead, Love!

 

 

 

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Not By Might

We are so often lured to believe power is necessary to affect change. Truthfully, power can bring about change in the physical world, but rarely positive, impactful, lasting changes. One powerful kingdom gets replaced by the next; the leadership landscape changes but not the lives of the people.

From the time of the exile to Babylon until Jesus coming, the people of Israel languished under one occupation and then another, experiencing very brief moments of freedom. When Jesus arrived on the scene as a baby, the Roman empire had only been around for 27 years; but by the time he was beginning ministry in his 30s, their domination was in full swing. The Jews were ready for a redeemer, someone to free them from Roman rule and reestablish Israel as a kingdom, one to influence the whole world – just as they understood the prophesies to read.

But Jesus didn’t come to establish a physical kingdom on earth. He came to establish the kingdom of God, a spiritual kingdom, one that fills the whole earth and supersedes all other kingdoms. God’s kingdom binds people together regardless of their physical status or ethnicity, slave or free, rich or poor, man or woman, child or adult, barbarian or educated… the list goes on. When Jesus said that the kingdom of God was near, and was in fact at hand, this is the kingdom he meant.

We are living in the kingdom of God right now.

God’s spiritual kingdom operates opposite to earthly kingdoms in nearly every aspect. In God’s kingdom the physically poor are spiritually rich; those who appear to be first and the greatest physically are last and the least spiritually. The servant is the leader. In God’s kingdom, the ruler doesn’t lord himself over his subjects but gives his life for them.

A spiritual kingdom requires spiritual power. Physical might means nothing. We are tempted to believe that our ingenuity and ability will get us through, but that could not be farther from the truth. Though it’s a great movie story line – how the hopelessly overmatched underdog finds a miraculous way to win in the conflict – it is not spiritually real. Yes, David defeated Goliath, but who really won the battle.? Here are David’s exact words:

“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…” (1 Samuel 17:46)

Our might cannot save us. Our might cannot protect us. But we are not helpless; we have the Spirit of power living in and through us, and the living Word of God as our sword. He has already conquered death and we are in him.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zachariah 4:6)

The transition we need to make is to let go of what we think we can do and to embrace what we know God can do.

 

 

Interested in missions? Fill out our contact form here!

Actively Waiting

It seems we are always waiting for something. Maybe you are waiting for graduation or for a baby to be born or for a promotion at work. Once it happens, we then look forward to something else, and the waiting begins again.

No one really likes waiting but it is a necessary part of our earthly life. It is also a part of kingdom life – in the mission world, we find ourselves waiting for many things. Some of us are waiting for an organization to accept us, others are waiting for God to provide the financial support to get started in ministry. Once in our new country, we wait while we learn the different culture and language. As we get involved in ministry, we wait for “fruit” from that work. And in the end, we are all waiting for Christ’s return!

We may be tempted to consider waiting as wasted time, but that would be wrong. Externally, God may have us waiting because the right time has not yet arrived. Only he knows the best time for things to happen. The apostle Paul used the term “the fullness of time” in his letter to the church in Galatia:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:4 (ESV)

The Jews had waited for their Messiah for centuries, but God sent Jesus just when the time was right.

Most of us may be able to list examples in our own lives when God has delayed. During the wait we probably called out to God in desperation. The time certainly seemed right to us; but when his answer finally arrived, we saw his wisdom and love for us in the waiting.

Waiting has an internal purpose as well. In waiting, we develop character. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit worth waiting for! In waiting, our faith is deepened. That deepened faith may be needed for deeper waters lying ahead on our path. In waiting, we understand that God is in control and not ourselves. Learning to submit to the lordship of Christ brings about greater dependence on him and others.

Waiting does not have to be without action, though. In fact, actively waiting often brings about greater things. We must learn to embrace the fact that there is purpose in God’s process for us. Here are some suggestions for how to stay active in waiting on God:

Pray – prayer is to our lives of faith what breathing is to our physical lives. It should be constant. We get a better understanding of who God is and what he is about as we spend time with him in prayer. Prayer spiritually prepares us for God’s plan for us.

Learn – our lives should be about learning, whether we are waiting or acting. Learning almost always involves listening and listening well. Interacting with what we hear is the first step to understanding and moving forward. Learning helps prepare us for what is ahead when the waiting ends.

Love – engaging with those around us while we wait will reap benefits for both us and them. Our service will meet needs and prepares us for what God has in store. Love should be our priority. In the end, three things will remain, faith, hope, love… but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13).

Love God. Love others. That covers it all.