Unexpected Lessons and Blessings

Its funny how “unintended” decisions can teach valuable lessons and become sources of blessings. This morning, my wife and I had the unexpected luxury of having date time, thanks to the generosity of our adult children. We decided to go to a larger city some 30 miles away for church and lunch and spend some quality time together. We had heard that the 1st Baptist Church in this town had great preaching and good music so we decided to attend there. Imagine our disappointment when we arrived at 10:55 only to see on their sign that the service had started at 10:20. Not knowing the city (and not having enough time to drive anywhere else) we walked across the street to the 1st Methodist Church to worship with them.

What an unexpected blessing. From the genuine greetings by the members there to the well exegeted and biblical sermon, the whole service was enjoyable. The blessing and the lesson, though, can from something different altogether. The recitation of the Apostle’s Creed, the Gloria Patri and the Lord’s Prayer brought a deep sense of comfort and companionship with the rest of the congregation who were affirming what I was affirming. So often, I believe we subconsciously start to feel that only people in our congregation, our denomination, are saved; forgetting that we don’t know everything and God has His people scattered everywhere.

The sermon was from Mark 8:22-28, the healing of the blind man by Jesus. The title was “Seeing people as people” and the lesson for me was pointed. Here I was, an outsider to this church, welcomed by them and worshiping with them because they saw me as a fellow believer. How did I view them, before walking into their service? How did I view their denomination before worshiping with them? Did I see them as brothers and sisters or misguided individuals? Did I see them as 2nd class Christians because they didn’t believe just as I did or as fellow believers from a different tradition who affirmed the same basic truths about the Triune God?

If you get the chance, visit the church across the street. Take in what they do, how they worship. Ask them, why do you do things this way, why do you not do things a certain way. Ask yourself – why does our church do things a certain way and not another. You just might find new believers to fellowship with. You might find an unexpected blessing in worshiping in a slightly different way. You might find an unexpected lesson in a familiar Scripture. Funny how God directs our steps to be where He wants us to be, even when we think we are the ones choosing the path.

Hymn Devotions Day 28 – Victory in Jesus

 DAY 28 – VICTORY IN JESUS

               This song has jokingly been referred to as the “Baptist Anthem” as it is a perennial favorite with this denomination. Its appeal is far broader than any one segment of Christianity, however. The author was one of the founding fathers of Southern gospel music, and wrote over 800 songs. This one, composed in 1939, was his last.

Whenever I sing this hymn, I am reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57:

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is our victory! When He saves us He grants us eternal life with God forever. Victory over death. He gives us a new heart, with His Spirit always with us. Victory over loneliness, sin, ungodly desires. Victory over our enemies, victory over our adversary, victory over everything that would or could stand in the way of a deep abiding relationship with our heavenly Father.

It is no wonder this hymn is so popular. It reminds us that we owe everything to Jesus. It is His salvation He gives us, it is His healing power, His cleansing power, His home He is sharing. The focus is solely on Jesus and the provision He has made for those who believe upon Him. What better way to start a day is there, than to focus on Jesus? What greater legacy could a man like Eugene Bartlett give, than to write His greatest song last – for what could possibly top a song that focuses so exclusively on our Savior?

I cannot wait to sing this with him in front of our Lord. This song is our song, the song of redemption.

 

Thank You, Lord, for giving us victory of sin and death. Thank You for purchasing our salvation. Thank You for providing a home with You, so we can enjoy You forever.

VICTORY IN JESUS – Eugene Bartlett, Sr.

 

I heard an old, old story

How a Savior came from glory

How He gave His life on Calvary

To save a wretch like me

I heard about His groaning

Of His precious blood’s atoning

Then I repented of my sins

And won the victory

 

I heard about His healing

Of His cleansing power revealing

How He made the lame to walk again

And caused the blind to see

And then I cried, “Dear Jesus

Come and heal my broken spirit.”

And somehow Jesus came and brought

To me the victory

 

I heard about a mansion

He has built for me in glory

And I heard about the streets of gold

Beyond the crystal sea

About the angels singing

And the old redemption story

And some sweet day I’ll sing up there

The song of victory

 

REFRAIN:

 

O victory, in Jesus, my Savior, forever

He sought me and He bought me

With His redeeming blood

He loved me ere I knew Him

And all my love is due Him

He plunged me, to victory

Beneath the cleansing flood

 

DAY 28

 

Highlights Around The World – #5 Uganda

Some years ago, when I was teaching at Yellowstone Baptist College, I had the privilege of having Grace Halland in my class. Grace was an exceptional student, with a passion for sharing the gospel and God’s Word. How pleased I was to learn of her plans to follow up Bible school by working with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Grace is now in Entebbe, Uganda, working with the translation teams.

This work is critical. The ability to get God’s Word into the hands of those who need to hear its life-changing message, in their own language, is priceless. I enjoy receiving Grace’s newsletter, as she not only keeps us informed of her work, but also of her life. It is rewarding to see her growth in the Lord, the maturing of her spirituality as she labors for the Kingdom. It is humbling to know that she has given her life to the people of Uganda – not just in translation work, but by adopting children and making a home there. It is satisfying to know that in a very, very small way, I was able to be part of her life, in the time God was speaking to her, calling her to this life of service.

We never know what impact we have on others. We never know how we will influence a person – not just for good or bad, but also in a large way or a small way. God takes all of those influences and works His work in the lives of His children. I am proud of Grace and the work of all Wycliffe translators. I am proud that God enabled me to meet her and spend time with her during her senior year. I do not for a minute take even the smallest part of credit for anything God has done or will do through Grace. It is I that have been influenced by her and her faithfulness.

Lift her up in prayer alongside me. Write to her through wycliffe.org and get to know this amazing person. Look around, God may place you in the path of one of His servants and the relationship you make will be eternal.

Highlights Around the World – #2 Malaysia

Perhaps the most rewarding of all our overseas trips was to the wonderful country of Malaysia. Fantastic hospitality, great food and dedicated disciples made for a successful trip. We went, at the request of churches there, to hold discipleship training events and interactive question and answer sessions on any topic they picked. We met in three different cities (Penang, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur) over 6 days. Presbyterians, Baptists, Assembly of God, Lutheran, Independents, and others all gathered together and shared with us and each other. Kudos to Canaanland Christian Book Store over there who made sure our teaching materials were in place and who provided us with a guide/translator who became a close friend with each of our teammates. Lifelong friendships, nay, eternal friendships were made as lives were shared with each other.

We learned so much that week – more, I’m sure, than we imparted to them. How inspiring it was to receive VCD’s of churches taking our training and showing us the ministries they came up with based on the training. Many ideas we have shared with churches in the states. I firmly believe that by working together and gaining insights from each other, churches around the globe can strengthen and edify each other. We have things we can teach, we have things we can be taught.

Please, pray for the Malaysian church. Great people ministering in a Muslim country, many facing increased persecution. They are strong in the faith, eager to share their witness, great examples for the worldwide church of God. Visit there, get to know the people, worship in a church with them. We did, and gained so much from it. How joyful it was to find such exuberant Christianity among the believers. God willing, we will be invited back to share with them once again.

Highlights Around the World, #1 – India

Here at Ta Ethne we want to hel you see different ministries around the globe that are making a difference for the Kingdom of God. These are people and ministries with whom we are in contact. Some of them we directly resource, others are lifted up in prayer. Some we partner with on the field and others we send training materials, finances or other resources. We will travel the globe over the coming weeks, showing you servants of our Great God who are doing a remarkable job. First up – India.

 

The Victory Baptist Association, http://www.vbai.org/ is one such ministry. There stated purpose is ” to give every person in India “ONE FAIR CHANCE” to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ,to make disciples of the Christian believers,to build a core of Christian leaders, and extend the ministry values and influence of Jesus Christ.”

VBAI works in the Agra area of  Utter Pradesh (state) of north India . Agra is in the state of Utter Pradesh, this is the largest populated state of India sending highest number of the representatives of the people to the “legislative” house [parliament] of the country. Most of the prime minister are elected from this state; here the famous Taj Mahal, which attracts millions of tourists every year from all over the World. This state has 13 million population, 630 cities and 8100 villages. It is the birthplace of the most of the gods of India . This state has many sacred rivers and temples, kasi Varanasi is considered as the second heaven people come and stay here in die.

This is a persecuted area, but this group has established a seminary and hold crusades regularly. Thousands are coming to Christ and this group is diligently working to train leaders through their seminary. They have trained over 100 pastors to serve in churches, and they hope to reach out to another 300 villages and 50 key cities in the next 10 years. A truly ambitious goal that they are trusting God to accomplish through them. Evangelist Pandu Maddala has reached out to Ta Ethne and we are currently praying about opportunities to work with VBAI over the next few years.

Check them out, pray for them, go and visit. God has many servants across the world. Come explore them with us.