“LIVING AND SHARING THE GOSPEL”
November 12, 2017
“Into Your Courts”
“Because We Believe”
Prayers of Intercession
SERMON: Josh McDonald video
Not of Stone and Earth
What it Means to be Church
“He Is Able”
Worship God in Spirit and Truth
Grow in His Grace and Knowledge
Share the Love and Hope we have in Christ.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Joseph and Tammy Tkach
As a fan of competitive cooking shows, I enjoy it when a chef, having put their heart into preparing a dish, declares, “This creation represents me and my personality—it’s me on a plate!” A statement like that, coming from a chef or some other artist, is not surprising considering that God, the ultimate artist, reveals something of himself in his marvelous creation. As King David exclaimed, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).
While that is true, there is much about God that we cannot understand on the basis of his creation alone. In many important ways, God is unlike what he created. Consider humans, for example. Though Scripture says we were created in God’s image, we are finite (with a beginning, and a body that one day will die and decay), yet God is infinite(with no beginning or end).
The finite life we enjoy within time and space is a gift from the self-existent, eternal God. To add to the wonder, God, through Jesus and by the Spirit, has opened to us a personal relationship with himself that will never end. As I think about God and his marvelous plan for us, I join King David in declaring that, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Ps. 139:6). To paraphrase the apostle Paul, trying to wrap our minds around the enormity and beauty of our eternal relationship with God is like “looking through a glass darkly.” On this side of glory, clothed as we are in a mortal body, we’re like flatlanders—two-dimensional beings who are unable to see the third dimension. To them, three-dimensional shapes are mere lines on a flat plane.
They can’t imagine what cubes, cylinders, spheres, pyramids and other three-dimensional objects look like.
We too are limited in understanding what lies beyond the time and space within which we dwell. Yet, the Spirit enabled the writers of Scripture to break through those limits to glimpse what lies beyond. Reflecting on some of what he learned, the apostle John wrote this:
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when [Christ] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2, ESV)
Here John is referring to God’s promise that a day of resurrection is coming when God will outfit us with a glorifiedbody fit for eternity. Clothed in an immortal body, we will be able to see (and enjoy) the fulness of relationship with God forever.
Resurrection by Signorelli (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)
What our resurrection body will be like, we can only surmise. However, we know that in our glorified state we will be different than we are now, as attested by the interactions people had with the resurrected Jesus. Continuing to be human (though now glorified), Jesus had a relationship with time and space quite different than the one he had prior to his resurrection—a difference confirmed in his bodily ascension.
Understanding something of that difference and applying it to us, the apostle Paul was led by the Spirit to note that though what was sown at creation was mortal(subject to death), what will be raised in the resurrection will be immortal (a glorified body not subject to death) (1 Cor. 15: 2, 53-54). Though in our resurrection bodies we will not be God (who, alone, is uncreated) we will be glorified humans like the resurrected man Jesus. Our eternal destiny is to share in Jesus’ glorified humanity!
In creating humanity as finite, God declared us “very good.” I mention that because some erroneously claim that being created finite is why we sin, or is the reason for the existence of evil. Implying that God created us evil, this claim makes God the author of sin. But knowing God hates sin, we would have to conclude that God hates what he created. That conclusion is illogical. The truth revealedin Scripture is that God is not both good and evil—his creation was not made good and evil. Scripture says God is sovereign over sin and evil, which are both alien to his creation. We learn this early in Scripture, especially in the story of Joseph, who having been sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery, later declared to them, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20, ESV). Even in our darkest moments on this side of glory, we can rely upon God who has promised that in all things he works for the good of those who love him (Rom. 8:28). Granted, many times things don’t work out the way we want.
The defendants were not in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court when the sentences were read out on July 4, but their lawyer was present and will appeal against the court’s decision this week. It is believed their appeal process could take anywhere between two months and two years. The four have been required to pay differing amounts for bail, ranging from 100-300 million tomans ($30,000-$90,000). Bet-Tamraz and Fallah-Mohammadi have posted bail, but Asgari and Afshar-Naderi remain in jail, where they have been since their arrest in August 2016 while on a picnic in the Alborz mountains, north-east of Tehran. Three other Christians arrested at the picnic, including the pastor’s son Ramil, were later released on bail after each paying between $30,000-$60,000.
Earlier this year, Asgari and Afshar-Naderi went on a hunger strike to protest against being denied medical treatment, having reportedly suffered ill health. Middle East Concern reported that Asgari had faced “particularly intense pressure” during his interrogation.
Meanwhile, Bet-Tamraz’s wife Shamiran Issavi and their son Ramil await trial. Mrs Bet-Tamraz was charged last month with “participating in foreign seminars” and “acting against Iranian national security” as a church member. She was released a day later on bail equivalent to $30,000. Ramil Bet-Tamraz has been charged with “acting against national security” and “organizing and creating house churches” as well as charges relating to his father’s ministry.
Source: World Watch Monitor
Father, we pray today for these men and women who have turned in faith to follow and serve Christ in the midst of peril. We thank You that Your church is growing in Iran despite persecution. As these men serve dangerous prison sentences, we pray that You will encourage and uphold them daily and protect them from attack and mistreatment. We pray that You will sustain their health and protect them against discouragement and doubt. As their families struggle in their absence, we pray Your mercy to rest upon them, Your provision to supply them with food and shelter, and Your peace to quite their souls. We pray all this not only for these men and their families, but for all the Iranian Christians who remain in prison because of their faith in Christ. In the name of Jesus, who has compassion on those who fear him (Ps 103), Amen.
PERSECUTION IN QATAR: WHERE SHARING YOUR FAITH IS A DANGEROUS ACTIVITY
March 17, 2017 by Janelle P in Middle East www.opendoors.org
This tiny country along the Arabian Peninsula is home to the Al Jazeera news agency, well-developed with the lowest illiteracy rate in the Arab world, and in 2022, plans to be home to the World Cup. Qatar has a small indigenous population and there are actually more foreign workers than native Qataris. In the mix of all of this are Christians, who face a great deal of persecution. Christian meetings of any kind are prohibited, except for migrant workers, and is therefore often done in secret. If a Qatari converts to Christianity, there will be extreme pressure from families and peers. The following is a quote from a Qatari citizen sharing what would happen if someone becomes a Christian: “If he’s 10 years old, his dad will show him verses from the Quran. If he’s 20 years old, a cousin will kill him or the family will hire someone else to kill him.”
Although Christians are called their share their faith in Jesus with others, Christian converts in Qatar often feel they cannot share without fearing for their own lives. Christians in Qatar desperately seek community and to learn more about the Bible, although the secrecy of their faith makes this almost impossible, so please join us to pray. Please pray that this nation will be more open to other religions; their Islamic culture does not leave much room for other influences. Also, pray that many Qataris would be drawn to Christ, in whatever means God deems necessary.
Despite Government RESTRICTIONS, VIETNAMESE CHURCHES CONTINUE TO SERVE
September 28, 2017 by Open Doors in Prayer updates
Updates to a religious law in Vietnam are slated to be implemented in January 2018. It is thought that the updates to this law, Decree 92, might be intended to further confine, control, and create problems for the church. The political situation in Vietnam is becoming increasingly complex and internal fighting within the party persists, affecting social affairs, especially religious ones. Persecution is most rigid in the northwestern area of Vietnam, but despite the authorities’ restrictions and the community pressures, praise the Lord for the churches that have remained faithful!
Consider the following examples of faithfulness in the midst of persecution, as well as the importance of the local churches. And consider the importance of our prayers on their behalf. Authorities have formed teams to persecute churches, forcing them to write down the names of every church member. An evangelist in the area reported that as a result, a landlord was ordered by the authorities to kick out the renters of a house being used as a church. Pray for them as they find ways to faithfully worship despite the obstacles placed before them.
In April, authorities seized the farm of Luam*, 30, for believing in Jesus. The authorities had forced his relatives to make him rebuild his Buddhist altar, but Luam refused to do so. His relatives were then commanded to severely beat him and he ran away. Luam attempted to return to his village, but again his relatives beat him. On his third attempt, he was able to safely return. During each attempt, the church was there to encourage and comfort. Give thanks for Luam’s faithfulness to Christ and for the support of the church in his life. Pray for his safety and for his witness to his family.
Despite obstacles the authorities have thrown at them, the organizers of a major church outreach event are moving ahead. The authorities originally implied they would allow them to hold a 3-night event with 40,000 expected to attend. And then, suddenly, the authorities changed it to a one-night event in a venue that could only accommodate 3,000 people. Give thanks for the church’s faithful persistence and pray that God will bring great fruit to this event despite the limitations placed on it.
Praise the Lord for his goodness to Hanoi Bible School (HBS)! A local church started a campaign to raise funds for the construction of an off-campus student dorm. God brought success to this campaign and now two groups of students live at this dorm and one group stays on campus. Give thanks for the faithful work of the Hanoi Bible School and for the provision of student housing. Pray for them to remain faithful to God in all their plans and decision-making.
*Name changed for security.
Father, we give thanks for the faithfulness of believers in Vietnam despite the opposition to Christ and His church. The opposition is indeed great, but You are greater and we are thankful for the promise that You make all things work together for Your glory and for the good for those called according to Your purposes. Therefore, we pray that You will strengthen the believers to remain strong in their faith. Teach them to know Your Word in its fullness that they will not be swayed by false doctrine to fall away. Bring much fruit to their work that the gospel will go forth with great power and authority. Grant godly wisdom to the church leaders as they respond to the challenges set before Your church. Keep them in safety and provide the resources they need to accomplish all you call them to. And may Your glory be spread across the length and breadth of this nation. In the name of Jesus who rules above all earthly authorities, Amen.
CHRISTIANS SENTENCED IN IRAN
July 14, 2017 by Open Doors in Prayer updates
Details have emerged about the sentencing of four Iranian Christians earlier this month. On Wednesday, July 5, World Watch Monitor reported that three Christians—a pastor and two converts to Christianity— had been given lengthy jail terms, but now it emerges that a fourth man, another convert, was also sentenced.
Kaviyan Fallah-Mohammadi was sentenced to 10 years in jail for “acting against national security by organizing and conducting house-churches,” as was fellow convert Hadi Asgari. The third convert, Amin Afshar-Naderi, received an additional five-year sentence, 15 years in all, for “insulting the sacred” (blasphemy). Fallah-Mohammadi and Afshar-Naderi were first arrested alongside their pastor, Victor Bet-Tamraz, as they celebrated Christmas together in 2014. Bet-Tamraz, who led the Tehran Pentecostal Assyrian Church until its closure by Iran’s Interior Ministry in 2009, has also been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Of Assyrian descent, the pastor was found guilty of “conducting evangelism” and “illegal house-church activities,” among other charges. His convictions are believed to relate to actions before and after the closure of his church.
Nevertheless, we trust in the One who, unbound by time and space, sees far more than we can even begin to imagine.
I often marvel at how God works in people’s lives to fulfill the promise of Romans 8:28. How he works things out for good is sometimes seen clearly, but at other times it remains hidden, leaving us wondering why things did not go another way. At such times, I’m reminded of an important truth—not being able to see what God is doing (due to our limitations) does not mean that God is not present and at work for our good. Sometimes, it is only years later that we see what God had been doing all along. At other times, we’re still waiting to see. But because we know God, we trust him, eagerly awaiting the time when we will see what we have not been able to see—a vision that God will unfold for us when Jesus returns and we are glorified. Looking forward to that day and the clarity it will bring, Joseph Tkach
GCI in Bulgaria By James Henderson, Mission Developer for Europe.
Though small in numbers, our church in Switzerland is big when it comes to caring and generosity. They help with many projects in Europe, among them our small church in Bulgaria, which is shepherded by Nicolay Nicolov. Several of the members there assist Nicolay in translating GCI articles to produce magazines in the Bulgarian and Russian languages.
In September, Swiss members Toni Püntener and Hannes Zaugg visited Nicolay in his home town of Jambol, about 185 miles from Sofia, the capital city. They had the chance to meet with the local congregation close to where Nicolay lives, and to visit another affiliated congregation composed mainly of ethnic Turkish and Romany people.
Toni commented, “We had a wonderful time with Nicolay and our contacts in Bulgaria, who are delighted to be linked to Grace Communion International. Please pray for them as they continue their church journey with us.”
Remember to pray each day for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are at the front lines as witnesses for Christ.
This is all they ask. “Please pray for us”.
†† Pastor’s Corner ††
Pastor David Perry & Jonnie
In this week’s pastor’s corner I have included short messages from two pastors…that you can use as daily devotionals. ~Pastor David
“What would happen if we were to really believe what is true of us? That we have Divine Life pulsating through the very fiber of our being? That we have a Spirit of Divinity who would encourage and empower us to do more than we could ever imagine if we only knew we are more than we have ever realized? That mistakes are a moot point and failure isn’t even an option because we are already a success, not because of what we do but because of who we already *are* even if we do nothing? What would happen if we stepped out and lived in a large and daring manner? If we were to say no to fear and intimidation and insecurity and gamble it all on the Truth? What would happen if we were to stop worrying about doing and just *be?* If we lost self-consciousness and quit worrying about what others thought and just ran through the fields of Grace with carefree abandon? What would happen? What WOULD happen?”by Steve McVey
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9
When we study Scripture, there are times when a nuance provided by the meaning learned from the Bible’s original languages can rock us to the core. The Greek word order of 2 Corinthians 12:9 provides us with meaning we don’t want to miss: “Sufficient for you is the grace of me.” That is an incredible promise! Essentially the Lord told the apostle Paul, I am the grace. I’m all the grace you need.
God does not dispense strength and encouragement like a pharmacist fills a prescription. God never says, Here, take two of these and call Me in the morning. He is the grace. He is the strength. His presence is the power. All we need comes through intimacy with Him. No matter what we face, Jesus is the complete answer.
“Sufficient for you is the grace of me.” He doesn’t give what we need and then go somewhere else. He comes to stay. “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). James MacDonald – Sr Pastor – Harvest Bible Chapel
Prayers for our Country and Pres. Trump
Prayers for the Body of Christ World Wide
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers & Sisters Around The World
Local Prayer Requests
JW Holmes-(friend of Vicki Auxier) has leukemia Dr’s say two years to live.
Mary Coffey, prayers for healing, strength & encouragement.
Jerry Hudson, PRAISE new med. is helping him. Pray for complete healing
Anita – (niece of Barb Hudson) – very serious illness needs treatment & healing
Other Prayer Requests
Connie Whitlock Praise – her back is much better.
Lucy (Anita Franz’s sister) She is doing some better.
Donna Dunbar – Sore on tongue…will be biopsied
Kathy Ennis – Foot surgery
Cherri Alexander has a problem with her spleen
Patricia Robinson (GCIndy) breast cancer
Rod Matthews (GCI Mission Developer for Southern Asia and the South Pacific) He is doing well in recovery and will need no further treatment pending the results of a blood test in February. Rod and his wife Ruth thank everyone for their prayers and love.
Peggy Perry – (Pastor David’s Sister) She had her 3rd chemo treatment Friday…and so far is doing very well. She thanks all for their prayers.
Richard Cravens (friend of Jim & Donna Dunbar) He is not doing well with cancer
Joseph & Georgette Franklin, Our Haiti Church & School– Prayers for safety & blessing & provision.
Joe & Tammy Tkach – Protection, safety, wisdom & encouragement
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers and Sisters Around The World
For Divine Appointments To Touch Others With Jesus’ Life & Love