Mission Trip to Myanmar

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It was an exciting and tiring week teaching at Yangon Grace Bible School. It was a great joy to have pastors and students learning about one of the greatest leaders in the Old Testament, Nehemiah.

 

I left for Myanmar early on Monday morning and flew for the next 24 hours. I had a short night because I had to be at the airport at 5:00 am the next morning in order to catch my next flight. The flight was delayed and I thought about that extra 2 hours I could have slept!

 

Finally, I got to Yangon and checked into my hotel room. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and we were off to the Bible School. I taught for several hours that afternoon. I was tired, and I was hoping that what I taught sounded like Nehemiah!

 

Ben Bounds, the director of Faith International Partners, had already taught the first 2 chapters and I taught the rest of the book. I taught with the aid of an interpreter for hours each day, and to be honest it was hard work. The exciting thing is that for many of the men, it was the first time they had ever been taught Nehemiah.

 

It was very humbling to meet these National pastors who traveled great distances to come to this training. Some travel days, in fact one pastor traveled 6 days. He walked two days, rode buses 2 days and traveled by boat for 2 days. Most of the men are ministering in the mountains to the Hill tribe people; usually they are from that tribe themselves. The people are used to walking great distances, because for many, the only way to get where they live is a foot path. Most of these men are poorly educated by our standards, in fact, some have difficulty reading.

 

One thing I was impressed with was their hunger for God’s Word. They asked great questions and you could tell they were really processing the information they had heard. Another real blessing was hearing them sing praises to God. They could really sing and it was loud. It sounded like a men’s choir, 50 voices strong! It gave me the glory bumps every time they sang. I wish we could sing with that passion at Metro! It really seemed they were singing for His glory and praises to His name.

 

I preached the commencement address on Saturday afternoon. It was a real honor to challenge these graduates to go back home and reach their tribal group with the gospel. I hope you will pray for them. Their country is ruled by a communist military government. They will hazard their life for the message they preach and the Lord they serve.

 

 

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Doesn’t God deserve our Best?

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Doesn’t God deserve our Best?

After listening restlessly to a long and tedious sermon, a 6-year-old boy asked his father what the preacher did the rest of the week. “Oh, he’s a very busy man,” the father replied. “He takes care of church business, visits the sick, works on his sermon, counsels people…and then he has to have time to rest up because speaking in public isn’t an easy job.” The boy thought for a moment and then said, “Well, listening ain’t easy, either!”

It ain’t easy to listen, is it? That’s probably how Malachi’s listeners felt.

Let me remind you of the situation that Malachi is addressing. The Jews had returned to their land after living in modern-day Iraq for 70 years. The Temple had been rebuilt and the worship of God had been reestablished. While outwardly everything seemed OK, on the inside a cancer of complacency had been eating away at their commitment. Their worship had become wimpy, their leaders had morphed into lightweights, their relationships had ruptured, their offerings were anemic and they had stopped serving. As God’s final spokesman at the end of the Old Testament, Malachi comes on the scene to challenge them, and us, to give God our best.

1. Embrace an authentic faith (1:6-7). There are two sides to the Father’s love. One side is tender and the other a bit tougher. He is relational in His giving, and He is resplendent in His glory, and as such, we must honor Him, which means to consider Him weighty.

2. Give God priority over possessions (1:8-9). The priests were accepting not just the second best from the people; but worse than that, they were bringing God sick sheep and gross goats. They were offering the ones that weren’t worth anything. God is not interested in substandard sacrifices (Lev. 22:2, 19-20).

There are three standards for sacrifices in Scripture.

• Give the best (John 12:3-5)

• Give to God first (2 Chron. 31:5)

• Giving should cost us something (2 Sam. 24:24)

3. Grasp the greatness of God (1:10-14). God would much rather have us shut down the church than to come to Him with pathetic leftovers. Every time God mentions sacrifice, He follows it with the phrase, “I will be great” or “I will be feared.” Sacrifice is directly linked to the greatness of God. When we offer Him little or nothing, we are really saying that God doesn’t matter much to us.

Instead of counting it a privilege to minister on God’s behalf, they exclaimed, “What a burden!” They even “sniffed at it contemptuously,” which means that they “puffed” or “blew” in exaggerated exasperation. I imagine God looking at us and wondering why we get so bored with Him (see Mic. 6:3; Isa. 1:12-13).

If you ever get a glimpse of the greatness of God, and what Jesus has done for you, you’ll never play church again and you’ll give God your best for the rest of your life.

The Upside of Resolutions

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The Upside of Resolutions

Have you ever talked to someone who said that they won’t make any resolutions because they always break them? While I certainly understand this (all too well), the downside of this attitude is that we can end up not making any decisions to move forward spiritually. As Donald Whitney writes, “No one coasts into Christlikeness.”

If you’re up for a serious challenge this week, I dare you to read through 70 Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.  (http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/jonathan-edwards-resolutions/ ) I’m so far from exhibiting most of them in my own life but I found that the simple act of reading them has provided some motivation to move forward.

Here are some that really rocked me this morning.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great so ever.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.