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2bobcraft2We have our fingers on the pulse of modern missions. Mission work is changing rapidly as the world's cultures and global conditions are changing. Ease of travel and communication impact how the Gospel is spread. But at the heart of missions, there is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the obedience of the Church to carry out Jesus' command to go into all the earth.

We want to present challenging biblical truths, insights into today's missions environment, and progress reports on reaching the entire world with the Gospel. Please keep checking our blog regularly for updates, stories and challenging thoughts from Scripture! 

Should I Not Have Concern?

You think you know Jonah? Think again.

Jonah’s story is perhaps one of the most famous in the Old Testament, and with good cause. Since it is very dramatic and has great teachings, it is an excellent story to share with children and adults alike.

To recap, in Jonah 1:2 God calls Jonah to preach in the great city of Nineveh because of the wickedness taking place. Instead of obeying God, Jonah fled by boat. God saw this and sent a great storm. After determining he was the cause of the storm, the sailors threw Jonah overboard, where he then gets swallowed by a whale (or large fish). He remains there for three days and nights, repents, and then is released from the whale to start ministry in Nineveh.

For most of us, that is where the story ends.

Yet, there are key teachings in the book of Jonah that can be overshadowed by the first chapter (and a giant fish). This is an Old Testament book written hundreds of years before Jesus walked on the earth. The key question of the book is: Why has God called Jonah to Nineveh, a non-Jewish city?

Although Nineveh was known for its wickedness, God explains in 4:11, “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Simply put, the people in Nineveh are lost! God’s vision is greater than simply the obedience of one person. The 120,000 people are so lost that they cannot even tell their right from their left. Even the animals are lost! They are not following His ways, and He wants them to turn away from the wickedness.

The book of Jonah is not just about God’s pursuit of Jonah to fulfill His call; rather, it is about God’s pursuit of Jonah so that Jonah can reach the people of Nineveh. Why didn’t God give up on Jonah? Jonah was God’s chosen instrument as the means to reach Nineveh. This is powerful on a personal level for Jonah, but on a much greater scale for a city of 120,000 people.

What was the result? Chapter 3:4-5 says, “Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” The news even reached the king, and he issued a decree for the people to repent! As a result, the people were spared and God did not bring about their destruction.

When we consider modern missions, we can learn three things from this book:

1) God uses people as His main way to reach the lost with the Gospel. This theme is echoed throughout the New Testament as well – the disciples, Paul and Jesus Himself were the messengers of the Gospel.

2) God already wanted the world to follow Him during Old Testament times. He had chosen Jonah to be the messenger and relentlessly pursued him so that the message would be brought to Nineveh, a non-Jewish city.

3) God has tremendous love for the lost. Even hundreds of years before the Great Commission, we see God already showing His divine love for the world, wanting all to come to faith. God, in His righteous justice, was deeply offended by what was taking place in Nineveh, but He offered redemption for them.

At Reach A Village, our heart’s desire is the same as God displays in this book. Just as God wanted to reach the people of Nineveh, He wants all to know Him today. He is still sending out people to the unreached places of the world with the Gospel. Pray for willing workers to reach these areas around the globe!

I encourage you to read the book of Jonah again with fresh eyes. May God show you more of Himself in this fascinating account of reaching the city of Nineveh. God bless you!

 

By Erin Menke-Assam

Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Things That Will Kill a Church

By Bob Craft

Ever wonder why Peter, James and John fell asleep on the mountain as Jesus was transfigured while communing with the God of the universe and with Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:28-36)? While on top of the mountain, Peter, James and John dozed off with heavy eyes during the most important period of prayer in Jesus’ life. When they awakened, Peter, as usual, fumbled for something to say and came up with the bright idea that a building program was in order! Jesus didn't even acknowledge such foolishness, and God Himself interrupted with a thundering proclamation of the divine nature of Christ and commanded them to listen to Jesus.

Then they headed down the mountain, only to face more overwhelming issues. How could these mighty apostles, who, earlier in the chapter, had cast out demons and healed the sick, suddenly be so powerless as to not be able to help the little, demon-possessed boy, writhing at the foot of the mountain, at the feet of the disciples and the feet of his desperate father (Luke 9:37-43)?

In fact, all of the apostles had successfully been sent out on their first solo mission and returned with great stories of victory. Great crowds of people followed them back to Jesus and He then fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. Yet look at the disciples now, at the foot of the mountain! So shortly after such powerful experiences of sharing the authority of Jesus over demons and death, they all stood powerless and defeated.

What had gone wrong? What had "zapped" their faith and their power?

I have the privilege of helping train teams of church planters as they go into unreached villages. As I studied this passage (Luke 9), the Holy Spirit revealed something that I had never seen before. The real answer to the problem of these powerless disciples was something that Jesus had to deal with in detail over their next stage of training.

During the incident with the demon-possessed boy, Jesus made a simple statement regarding their lack of faith, prayer, and fasting to deliver the boy from demons. But the disciples already knew that. That's why He said, "How long do I have to put up with you?" (Luke 9:41). This power failure is not just about prayer or fasting or faith! Look at the next verses. Look at the events that were to follow. Therein lies the root of the problem of powerless, prayer-less, disciples.

Three stunning revelations come out about the attitudes of the disciples. There was something toxic going on among the disciples. Something Jesus needed to get to the bottom of quickly if they were to regain victory and power. These three attitudes would kill the church planting movement that had just begun. These attitudes would render the disciples powerless to carry out the Great Commission and the will of God.

Attitude #1. Who is the Greatest? Luke 9:46: “Now an argument started among the disciples as to which of them might be the greatest.”

Ah! Now we get to the heart of the problem of powerless disciples! They were proud and competitive, grasping for power and position. These characteristics are guaranteed to stop church growth and give Satan the upper hand. The fruits of this attitude are quarrels and arguments, discord and disagreement. It does not make them united; it makes them u-n-t-i-e-d. It breaks the bonds of brothers, but not the bonds of Satan. Here, at this point, is where Jesus brings a little child into the scene. Who gets to stand at the right hand of Jesus? An innocent, blameless child becomes the eternal example of greatness in Jesus' Kingdom (Luke 9:46-48).

Attitude #2. He is not one of us. Luke 9:49: "Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."

No sooner than Jesus addresses the issue of greatness, the disciples open their mouths again, proving that they have deep issues that will hinder their effectiveness and zap their power. "He is not one of us!" Now what kind of spirit would you call that? In one of the training sessions in Myanmar, a worker cried out, "That's the denominational spirit!" Yes, if it is not individual pride and competition, it is the sectarian, group spirit. We are all so prone to think that God can only speak to us or work through our group. Does anyone have a corner on God, His Spirit or His Son? We cry that if someone is not for us, they are against us. "'Do not stop him,' Jesus said, 'For whoever is not against you is for you.'" (Luke 9:50). Jesus revealed the Kingdom point of view. The sectarian spirit will truly hinder a movement of God and stop the expansion of the Church.

Attitude #3. Destroy them! Luke 9:53-54 “but the people there did not welcome him ... When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, 'Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?'"

The disciples had bad attitudes toward each other (Who is the greatest?), bad attitudes toward other groups of workers (They are not one of us!), and now we see that they had bad attitudes toward those who do not welcome Christ (Destroy them!). Jesus soundly rebukes the disciples for such a judgmental attitude toward the lost! Jesus simply takes them on a journey to yet another village to proclaim the Gospel!

In my estimation, these three spirits are the greatest hindrances to the work and movement of God in His Church and in the “missions” world. These attitudes hinder church planting, church growth and church unity. They must be rooted out by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and dealt with openly and deeply if we are to carry out the Great Commission and take the Gospel to every village. Jesus had to deal with these issues before He could ever multiply and send His disciples out on another mission like the one described in Luke 10.

The next time we find ourselves lacking spiritual power, unity or compassion, I suggest we do a quick check of our attitude in these three areas. We will probably find the problem.

 

Photo used by permission - "Old Ruined Church by radnatt @ http://freedigitalphotos.net

This Technology Will Change the World!

TechnologyThis groundbreaking technology absolutely has the ability to complete the Great Commission in our lifetime! 

Specifications:

Core Processor - Processes 100 million, million operations per second. For those of you who are trying to do the math with your supercomputer brain – that’s over 100,000 times more processing power than today’s cutting-edge supercomputer processor. It transmits 20 quadrillion bits of information per second.

Memory - The storage capacity for information in memory cells is approximately 2.5 petabytes. That is enough memory to store 300 years' worth of 24/7 television!

Cameras - The photoreceptors number more than 120 million, which MIT scientists believe can process entire images in as little as 13 milliseconds. The autofocus can sense exactly what you need it to see, and constantly adjust to what is just right for you.

Microphones and speaker - This technology is capable of a minimum audio projection of at least 123,205,750 words in over 7,000 languages.

Recording capabilities - It can record sounds wherever you are, for as long as you need to, and store these sounds for later recall. The listening devices are able to distinguish over 400,000 unique sounds.

Interactivity - It can converse with you, recite poetry, tell jokes, play games, read books, sing songs, make stories come alive, you name it! It can learn languages and translate them, immediately adapt to inflexion or duress in a voice, and actually read the emotional expressions of people and calculate the best response.

Fuel and energy use - Sixty thousand miles of circuitry make up the fuel- and energy-delivery system. This technology will last for decades and is fueled entirely from easily available renewable resources.

Portability - This technology can self-transport an average distance of 110,000 miles over its lifetime using a complex system of over 600 strands of flexible material. It can also be transported in any current mode of transportation without hindering its processing functionality. It can go wherever you go without ever having to be put in a luggage compartment.

This technology is a blend of the highest and latest findings in the field of science and a beautiful art form in its aesthetic design. It is without a doubt the most wonderfully made creation you will ever find, and it is exactly what we need in today's changing world. There is nothing else like it in the world, and there may never be. Scientists call it “Homo Sapiens.” That’s right!

God created humans so amazingly awesome and complete, with billions of parts that work together to help us understand and change the world around us. The human brain and the body it controls are the most phenomenal creations in the universe. Our brains have the memory capability of more than one billion PC hard drives, with more connections than there are stars in the universe. And, all of that memory capacity is stored in a mere three-pound unit!

Jesus said, “Go,” and the great majority of us have that ability to get up and walk to someone with the news of Jesus! When we cannot go physically, we can go in spirit, through prayer. This is the technology through which Jesus chooses to spread the Gospel to all the world.

Jesus said, “Look at the fields, they are white unto harvest.” We can’t even see with our naked eyes the millions of tiny neurons that allow us to lift our eyes and see the vast and teeming fields of billions of souls who need Christ.

Jesus said, “Give a cup of water in My name,” and we don’t even have to tell our muscles, nerves and bones what to do to grasp a cup and offer a drink to a parched wanderer or pick up a Bible and offer the Living Water to them.

Jesus said, “Pray that the Lord of harvest would send out workers.” And we don’t even have to tell our brains to form the words of a prayer on our lips. Our prayers pour forth from the cries of our hearts.

No computer or smartphone, headset or technology bracelet can ever replace what God has created us to do. Go, give, see, hear, understand, speak, heal, forgive, and live! Your world will never be the same. Now use your God-given technology to share Jesus with every living person, especially those who have never heard.

Article By Michele Norris Melton and Robert Craft

Photo used by permission- “Hand Touch Circuit Board” by watcharakun @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

 

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