A Lesson from Nicaragua: Community

 

Missions Spotlight: Nicaragua

alex davila

Alex Davila leads a small group Bible study in Nicaragua.  He also maintains a public YouTube channel and radio broadcast, sharing the Good News.  If you would like to check his website out (La Biblia y las religions: The Bible and religion), you can visit http://labibliaylasreligiones.com. He is also a perfect Spanish-English bilingual and would love to hear an encouraging message from you! 

 

Pictured above is Alex preaching at the Lima Church in Peru.  We love it when Alex accompanies us when we travel to Peru. 

 

Community is a compound word: common and unity.  This means that we are a group of people unified by what we have in common.  This is a perfect example of the Body of Christ: unity through common beliefs. Just like our human bodies are unified by the drive to survive, the body of believers are unified by Christ.

 

Sometimes, as Christians, we can get caught up in our differences.  Quarrels over wine vs. grape juice for communion, tattoos vs. no tattoos as a Christian, and Sunday school before or after the church service take place all over the nation.  Now, some of these quarrels seem silly, but you know as well as I do that feelings are hurt over simple differences in ideas.  In Galatians 5:6, Paul reminds us “for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love”.  It is our faith, exemplified by our love, that counts, not the small differences (or similarities) we may have.

 

Today, I want to remind you that we have more in common with one another than we have differences.  The Church should be the tightest-knit group of people in the universe.  We should have the highest sense of morale and comradery.  Watching the Olympics gets me hyped as I see hockey teams, and ice skating duos, curling teams (yes, even curling can be exciting) accomplish big things together.  Their sense of togetherness and years of hard work to achieve a common goal awakens my drive to seize the day.  Guess what, we have GOD and His son, JESUS CHRIST living in US!!! Imagine the radical acts of love we can achieve with divine power, strength and grace living in us.   Jesus says that the world should be able to know who we are by how we love one another.  What are you doing to show your neighbor your radial love?

 

You have probably heard this verse before, but I want to take it back to its original Greek.  1 Corinthians 6:19 – “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own..”. All of the times that you and your are mentioned in this verse they are actually plural which translates from the Greek into English as ‘you all’. Grammatically, this is known as the second person plural, and something our English Bibles hide from us sometimes because we do not have a direct translation for the second person plural that sounds nice in English. The closet thing we have in English is ‘you all’ or if you are in the south then ‘y’all’. Can you imagine your Bible saying “do you not know that y’all’s bodies are a temple of the Holy spirit”? Due to the mistranslation of this verse into English people usually take this verse on an individual level. The meaning of this text then becomes a verse used to support exercise to keep your “temple” nice however what the author originally intended was to mean the body of Christ is the temple. This means that how we treat each other as the body directly correlates to what the temple is like. That is a very important statement! When we are angry with or hate our fellow believers, we are desecrating the new temple that God has set up.

 

If you look at how the temple was treated in the Old Testament we see how holy and sacred it was. We need to translate the holy aspect of the Old Testament temple to the body of Christ today. So what exactly does it look like to be holy to each other? It is patience, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Next time you want to be angry at someone remember that how you treat them affects the holiness of the temple, the place that God dwells. Reading the passage for its original meaning is much more difficult than a simple command to exercise and eat well.  It is a command on how we should be as a community. Try reading the passage in this way, “Do you not know that your community is a temple of the Holy spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God”. This is Paul lifting the community of believers to a higher level. I encourage you to take up that call and to bring even more glory to God’s community of believers.

 

The latter half of Acts 2 describes a true community of Christ.  The Church devoted themselves to teaching, to fellowship, to breaking bread together, to giving to the needy, and all the while with glad and sincere hearts (Acts 2:42-47).  Let’s reach out to each other.  Let’s strive to love each other in a radical way that makes the world hunger for what we have.

 

Reaching out is exactly what Alex is doing in Nicaragua with his radio ministry.  Our love doesn’t stop within our culture, or backyard or our nation; we are an international community.  Although we can’t break bread with our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, we can encourage them even from afar.  Alex would love to hear from you!  Just a simple message saying hi, the church you attend, and that you are thinking of him can go a long way.  You can find him on Facebook under the name ‘Alexander Davila’.  Remember, he is a perfect bilingual, so no need to use a translator.  Radical love awaits us ❤

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

 

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Facts of Life

Matthew 10

emoyer - facts of life

Ok, so I am going to age myself this week.  An old sitcom that was popular when I was young had a “catchy”/ jingle that would get stuck in my head every week when it was on.  The Facts of Life.  The chorus was:

You take the good, you take the bad,

You take them both and there you have

The facts of life, the facts of life.

 

There’s a time you got to go and show

You’re growin’ now you know about the facts of life,

The facts of life.

 

When the world never seems to be livin’ up to your dreams

And suddenly you’re finding out

The facts of life are all about you, you.

 

It takes a lot to get ’em right

When you’re learning the facts of life. (learning the facts of life)

Learning the facts of life (learning the facts of life)

Learning the facts of life.

 

If we we all think back and think about how we thought our lives would be, we would probably admit that things are nowhere near what we had dreamed if we are honest with ourselves.  In our reading today (Matthew 10) Jesus was speaking to his disciples and charging them to go out and share the gospel to the world.  He knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  The disciples had a long and challenging road ahead of them.  In fact, sharing the message and living for him would be one of the hardest things the disciples would ever do.  It was the disciples “Facts of Life” message from Jesus.  As we consider our relationship with Jesus, we might find times that make us angry, confused and end up with doubts and hurt.  What I take from these verses is the challenges may be great- and they are.  We may have teachers, family members, coworkers and friends that challenge, mock us or walk away from our lives. But the reward is greater.  

Let’s focus on what Jesus says in verses 21-23.  The Message Version says: “When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family.  There is a great irony here:  proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate!  But don’t quit.  Don’t cave in.  It is all well worth it in the end.  It is not success you are after in such times but survival.  Be survivors!  Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.”   

So don’t cave in! Don’t be discouraged.  As the song lyrics state:It takes a lot to get it right when you are learning the facts of life. The fact is Jesus loves you and desires your commitment, love, praise and life.  He wants you to face these challenges in life and the end result is the ultimate prize. It does take work and the road may not always be easy but he is there and his love and promise is worth it.

emoyer-ruff

-Emily Moyer

Reflect His Goodness

psalm 107-22

It’s been a week of thankfulness – recognizing God as the Giver of All Good Gifts, getting to know Him more and more through the gift of His Word, gratefully accepting the gift of His Son, Jesus, and being thankful even in the midst of a difficult time.

Now for the great yearly challenge – how do we continue the thankful thinking all year?

Perhaps the following quote from J.F. Kennedy will provide some help.  “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  Show your gratitude, not just by saying, “Thank You” to God and to others, but by living a thankful lifestyle.  If we are deeply thankful for the blessings that have been given we will naturally want to share those blessings with others.  Opening our home to others, tithing to our church, caring for those experiencing difficult trials, and sharing with those who have less material blessings are all ways we can express our gratitude for what has been given.  We can reflect His goodness.  He has given to us.  We will give to others.

And, most importantly, when we are truly grateful for what God has done, for who He is and for His plan of salvation, for the gift of His Son and the forgiveness given, for the Kingdom hope – we will want to share it with others.  Inviting a friend to church, sharing a devotion with the family, praying with someone struggling, telling what God has done for you, giving a Bible, donating to missions (*), posting Scripture on your social media, home, office and locker walls, and the list goes on.

Read over Romans 10.  The world is full of people who do not know the gifts they could be receiving right now – who have not heard the message.  It is our job to, “Sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.” (Psalm 107:22).  What thank offerings will you present?  How will you tell of His works?  We are not responsible for other’s reaction to the saving message.  Just as Moses and Isaiah met up with resistance and obstinate people – so will we when we exercise our beautiful feet (Romans 10:15).

Look over your thankful list (go ahead and write it down if you haven’t already this week).  Prayerfully consider how you can show your appreciation for each gift.  How can you pass along the joy you’ve received?  How will you reflect His goodness?

-Marcia Railton

 

(*) Be watching for the soon-to-be released Lord’s Harvest International Gift Catalog for some great ideas on how to help provide for needs on our missionary fronts (Bibles, church buildings or rent, a pastor’s transportation, an orphan’s or widow’s care, seed & fertilizer, etc….) 

See Where God is at Work

Romans 1-16

The theme for our devotions this week was the gospel. The Bible is full of accounts and teaching but the most important teaching is the gospel. Self-examine and be honest with yourself, ask ‘Do I know the gospel? Can I show someone in the Bible where it is? Do I understand the gravity and significance of this message?’ Often times many Christians are weak on the gospel. Either they don’t know it or they don’t live by it or they fail to share about it with others. Which leads us to today’s lesson: share the gospel with other people.

If you have ever shared the gospel, you know it is scary. In the two years God has worked with me about sharing the good news to people, and let me tell you whether I’m sharing with an immediate family member or a total stranger, it’s scary every single time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get comfortable with it. Just like with anything, the first time you share is rough and you might stumble over your words or be extremely nervous. But the more times you do it, the better you become at it. When you share the good news with someone, you are speaking the eternal into the temporal. You speak life into death. You shed light into the pitch black void. God is with you and the spirit is at work in you when you share the gospel. I want to share some lessons I’ve learned in my experience with sharing the gospel.

  1. Have spiritual eyes and ears to discern a situation.

Let God direct you with whom to speak the gospel to. Some people are at a place in life where they’re not ready to hear the message. Be sensitive to the spirit and if you feel a prod to talk to someone or steer a conversation to faith, do it – God is with you. You don’t have to share the gospel with every person you come across.

  1. You don’t save anyone, God does.

The greatest miracle is the miracle of conversion. God is the only one able to bring that about. Don’t gauge your success by how many people you get to convert, that’s not what God wants from you. You can’t even save yourself, how can you save someone else? Instead gauge your success by if you’re sharing the gospel or not. If you are faithful and share, then you’re a successful evangelizer. I’ve shared the message with many people and none of them, to my knowledge have converted, still, in God’s eyes I am successful.

  1. It’s not an option, it’s a command.

It may be easier to not evangelize however it directly disobeys Jesus’ command at the end of Matthew 28:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” – Matt. 28.19

It’s easy to go to church, attend Bible studies, listen to Christian music, or post verses on your social media and so on. But the mark of a mature Christian is one who takes the message of salvation they received and shares it with others. Let us have confidence to obey Jesus in this all too important area of life. You can do it. You can do it. You can do it.

Be the one who obeys Jesus and spreads the gospel. Be the spiritual warrior who wages war against the powers of darkness. Be the one who breaks the silence and darkness with the power and glory of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” – Rom. 1.16

“But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.” – Acts 8.12

-Jacob Rohrer-

What Do These Stones Mean?

Joshua 4

Joshua 4-24

Thursday, October 12

As of yesterday’s devotion we left the Israelites consecrating themselves in preparation to see amazing things the Lord would do for them the following day.  And, when the people were prepared – God was certainly ready to do His part.  The last part of chapter 3 reads:

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge,  the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.   Joshua 3:15-17

What emoji would you choose if an Israelite just texted you that update on how their day was going?  Surprise!  Shock!  Awe!  It is an incredible account, isn’t it?  When I read it I was sorry to hear that the Israelites crossing didn’t get to gaze upon the water that was “piled up in a heap” as that was about 20 miles upstream (NIV text note on 3:15).  Wouldn’t that have been awe-inspiring!  Why not, I thought.  Perhaps God had planned to share this awesome display with those outside of the Israelite community – “so that all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful.” (Joshua 4:24)

In chapter 4 we also have the rest of the story on the waters of the Jordan that had instantly dried up when the priests’ feet touched the waters’ edge.  Could have been coincidence, someone might try to argue.  Lots of busy beavers just upstream?   But then Joshua 4:18 helps clear up any doubt: “And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD.  No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.”  This wasn’t the work of beavers or tides or circumstance.  At just the precise time needed the flood waters unexplainably stopped – and then re-started, also, at precisely the correct time.  This was the work of the Maker of Heaven and Earth and He was having fun doing amazing things for His consecrated people who had decided to be bold and courageous rather than cowering in fear and discouragement as their parents had.

Joshua followed the LORD’s direction to have each tribe take part in creating a rock tower to commemorate what the LORD did at the Jordan.  This was done to keep the memory alive and spark conversation, down through the generations, of how Almighty God had provided just what they needed at just the right time.  Joshua said their children would ask, “What do these stones mean?” (Joshua 4:6,21).  It would be a great opportunity to tell of God’s power and provision for His people.

In what miraculous ways have you seen God at work?  Perhaps on your own behalf, or someone you know, or even someone you read about – Biblical miracles still count today! What reminders do you have displayed for you and your family?  What opportunities do you have to overflow with stories of God’s power and faithfulness?  We must not forget God’s power.  We must remember – and tell others.   When we fear Him, we can be strong and courageous.

-Be Strong and Courageous – Marcia Railton

 

Wanna Go Fishin’?

Mark 1

Mark 1-17

I used to own a pair of fish that my best friend gave me. I thought I was a decent fish owner. But then I went off to Australia for three weeks and when I returned, I came home to find that the slow-release food supply that I put into the tank, didn’t dissolve. My poor fish starved to death. Oops.

 

So your reservation to take seriously any of my mentioning of fish, fishing, or fishermen would totally be understandable.

 

But I ask that you hear me out, just this once, for this particular topic. Afterall, I did my due diligence and Googled some information.

 

Mark 1:17 says, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

 

Being a fisherman was way back then and continues even today to be a daily job. Likewise, as we follow Jesus daily, our casting of nets should happen every day we are around others. If we are called to be fishers of men, all of our interactions need to be with the purpose of building relationships and showing others, verbally and nonverbally, what life with Jesus as our Lord looks like.

 

Peter and Andrew knew when the best time to go fishing was. According to www.takemefishing.org (I’m totally serious… ) the best time to fish is usually later on in the day. I know that there are probably a gazillion other variables that should be considered, so don’t go dismissing the bigger picture here. Later in the day, the fish are primed for feeding because their metabolism and digestion are roaring. There is a lesson for us here – in order for people to win others to Christ, they need to be primed. In God’s own timing, a person’s heart will be open to receive the Gospel. As fishers of men, we need to be praying for those opportunities to present themselves so we are able to discern what to say and when to say it.

 

We know from verse 16, that Simon (later called Peter) and his brother Andrew used nets for fishing. Not a pole, line and lure, but nets. They caught hundreds of fish at a time. When Jesus says that he will make us fishers of men, I think His intention is that we not just teach a few people about Jesus, but that we influence hundreds of people, over our lifetime, to consider what life as a follower of Jesus would look like.

 

We also know from verse 16, that fishing was not a solo effort. It demanded at least a pair to get the job done. Our faith is meant to be in a community. Yes, Jesus goes off to a solitary place in verse 35 of Chapter 1, but that doesn’t mean we live in a vacuum. Working and serving with other believers is how our faith is supposed to be carried out.

 

I fully admit that sharing the Gospel is not my strength. But as I read this verse, I became convicted that this is something that I need to take more seriously. That’s partly why I chose it to be the verse to memorize for the week. So even though it is a short verse and easy to commit to memory, it’s potential to change my life and the lives of those around me, is significant.

 

Wanna go fishin’?

 

-Bethany Ligon

 

What a Powerful Tongue You Have!

Tuesday

prov 18 21

Today’s reading is Proverbs 18.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

Have you ever thought about your words bringing life to someone else? Yet, we see this throughout the scriptures. God uses human beings to communicate who He is. God used human beings to speak and record His commandments and instructions. The Jews were entrusted with the very words of God (Romans 3:2).

Sometimes we may not realize how important our words can be. We certainly don’t want our conversations to make us gossips, quarrelsome, and fools (We don’t want our mouths to invite a beating.) But, as the children of God, it goes beyond avoiding bad conversations and sharing God’s message. God has entrusted us with the Gospel Message.  Good News of who He is, Good News of His Son Christ Jesus and Good News of the Coming Kingdom. We are given the opportunity to communicate that message so we can connect others to God through His Son.  God entrusted Jesus with the message that everyone needs to hear.

Christ said to his disciples in John 6:67-68, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

We sometimes forget that our study of the scriptures is important because we are receiving a message from God, a message that we can share with others.  I want to make sure that I get the message straight and the story right because this message “has the power of life”.

By Rebecca Dauksas

(Photo Credit: http://puttingonthenew.com/2013/11/10/proverbs-1821/)