News and Views

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! 

Love and Sacrifice

We all look to Jesus this week as we remember His love and sacrifice for us. In that final week, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies from centuries before and the eternal will of His Father from before the creation of the world. What was rushing through His mind and heart as He hung on the cross that day?

We have hints, glimpses as He struggled to utter just a few phrases that those standing near Him captured for us:

  • Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
  • Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
  • Behold your son! ... Behold your mother! John 19:26,27
  • My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46
  • I thirst. John 19:28
  • It is finished. John 19:29,30
  • Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Luke 23:46

The first thing on His heart was forgiveness and love for those who had condemned, cruelly beaten, mocked, tortured, and finally crucified Him. He thought of the promise of paradise, even for the penitent criminal being punished at His side. He thought of His mother, who would need immediate and special comfort and care. He felt the weight of the sin of humanity and the separation from God that it brings. He felt the full agony of His pain and humanity as His body cried for water and relief. He felt the sting of death and a sense of fulfillment as He breathed His last and entered into the arms of His heavenly Father.

But the central cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” gives us much more than a hint of His heart. He was quoting the first verse of Psalm 22. He was giving us a glimpse into history, into the present, and into the future.

Even in that hour, when He was hanging on the cross, Jesus could see those for whom He was dying. He could see the millions living in unreached villages who would respond to the Gospel when they finally hear His message. He knew that they would love and obey Him.

Serving the Savior,

Bob Craft

Psalm 22:22-31 (NIV)

“I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him – may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him – those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”

Please consider an Easter gift to help the Gospel message reach the nations. Christ died for them and we work daily to see them reached.

Who Really Wins?

Look up the word “love” in your Bible’s concordance, and you may be surprised to see just how many times throughout the New Testament we are told by Jesus and His disciples to: “love one another,” “love your enemies,” “love your neighbor as yourself,” and so on.

In fact, Jesus not only told us to love one another, He commanded it: “‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’” John 13:34 (NIV)

In the days leading up to the U.S. presidential inauguration, we have been bombarded on all sides by television newscasts and social media newsfeeds overrun with people representing different political sides tearing one another apart. What is the most heart-breaking, though, is the way the rhetoric of this election has even caused division within the Body of Christ.

Anytime that Satan can divide us as brothers and sisters in Christ and pit us against one another, he wins. If we are fighting and tearing each other down, we are doing his work for him.

A quote written by John Wesley in a 1774 journal entry serves as excellent advice for us over two centuries later. He urged Methodist Society members: “(1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy (2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and (3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

Christian brothers and sisters voted on both sides. We may have differing viewpoints, but we are still called to love one another as Christ loved us.

John 13:35 goes on to say, “‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’” As Christians, we always have those who are not yet believers watching us to see if our actions line up with what we say we believe – if we “walk the talk.” If we are attacking or speaking ill of others, our witness may be irreparably damaged.

Additionally, division within the Body of Christ can hinder us from completing the Great Commission. In countries where Reach A Village and other international ministries serve, Christians and non-believers alike are observing how we, as Christians, respond to changing political situations. We need to ask ourselves if we are reflecting the image of Christ or if we are stumbling blocks to others.

The apostle Paul said, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” Romans 14:19 (NIV) We, as Christians, need to lead the way in loving one another. May Jesus be the one who really gets the victory in the way we live our lives.

By Holly Lawton

Reach A Village writer

The Spirit of Christmas

“The angel replied to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.’” Luke 1:35

This time of year, we hear many people talking about the “spirit of Christmas.” For some, it simply means being more generous, giving presents or money to a “good cause” or a friend. For others it means a season of endless parties where eating and drinking characterize the “spirit” of the season.

What was the first Christmas like? What was the spirit of the first Christmas?

The world’s conditions were harsh. Mary and Joseph’s homeland was occupied by invading forces. People were displaced, taxes were high, and every person had to go register in the place of their birth. The difficult journey had to be made by animal or on foot along rugged paths and dirt roads. The accommodations were lacking. There was no good medical care, or even electricity.

When John the Baptist was born, his father Zechariah declared, “‘... because of our God's tender mercy the dawn will break upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’” Luke 1:78, 79

The difficulty and darkness I described here is not unlike the conditions in many countries in our world today. This literally describes hundreds of thousands of villages where people have never heard the message of Jesus Christ. For those who have no Christ, there is no Christmas. The true “Spirit of Christmas” has not yet arrived in their village through the message of an angel, or even the presence of a Christian.

Just as the Holy Spirit brought Christ to Mary’s womb, He wants to take Christ into the unreached villages that still lie in darkness two millennia after the birth of Jesus. The true Spirit of Christmas is far more than generosity and good cheer. It is what the Holy Spirit revealed to the old man Simeon when he saw the baby Jesus at the temple and said: “For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:30-32

Father, as we thank you for the Spirit that brought Christ into our world and our hearts, we pray for those who have yet to hear of His birth, death and resurrection. We thank you for the Light of our life, Jesus, and pray that the Good News of His coming will arrive in every village on earth as quickly as possible. Help us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the true Spirit of Christmas.

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