A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Archive for September, 2017

Free eBook now and this weekend: The Spirit of Jesus

A 6 Spirit of Jesus

Colour edition

The Lion of Judah

Book 6: The Spirit of Jesus

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Selection 1 from this book: God has given us the Spirit of His Son

Selection 2 from this book: Testimonies – Zinznedorf, Wesleys & Whitefield, Finney, Moody, Roberts, Gondarra

Emblem_of_Jerusalem.svgThe Emblem of Jerusalem – The Lion of Judah
The Hebrew word is Jerusalem

Contents of (6) The Spirit of Jesus

Introduction
God has given us the Spirit of His Son
The Spirit of the Lord in the Old Testament
The Spirit of the Lord in Jesus
The Spirit of the Lord in Us
Conclusion

Selection from this book:
The Spirit of the Lord in Jesus

Jesus was conceived in the power of the Holy Spirit, anointed by Spirit of God at his baptism, ministered in the power of the Spirit, and imparts his Spirit to us.

The Spirit in Jesus

Luke records how the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive Jesus by the power of the Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God’s power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

The stories in Luke surrounding Jesus’ birth make frequent reference to the Spirit’s activity (see Luke 1:15, 35, 41, 67; 2:25‑27).

For about thirty years, Jesus matured as a Jewish male, worked as a craftsman in the family business, and would have supported his family. Then a major turning point came during the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist. John saw his main task as announcing the coming of the Messiah and preparing the people for that great event (Matthew 3:1‑17; Mark 1:1‑8; Luke 3:1‑22; John 1:19‑34).

Jesus’ experience of being filled with the Spirit was public and open, not a secret. God announced by his Spirit that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, the one who would baptize us in the Spirit

“The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ 32 And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’” (John 1:31‑33).

The Spirit of God coming on Jesus at his baptism transformed his life. It launched him into three years of powerful and controversial ministry culminating in his death, resurrection and ascension.

It did not make Jesus any more holy. He was already holy.

It did not make Jesus more obedient. He was already obedient.

It did not make Jesus more divine. He was already divine.

It did anoint and empower Jesus for his mission, as he explained in Nazareth, quoting from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19; see Isaiah 61:1-2).

The passage in Luke 4:18-19, where Jesus quotes from Isaiah, makes a dynamic link between Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfilment concerning the Spirit of the Lord.

Jesus recognised the work of the Spirit of the Lord as crucial to his ministry. He did no mighty works before the Spirit came upon him at his baptism. Luke, especially, sees this as pivotal in Jesus’ life. The Holy Spirit came upon him (3:22), he returned from the Jordan full of the Holy Spirit (4:1), faced and overcame temptation being led by the Spirit (4:1), and then returned north to Galilee in the power of the Spirit (4:14). At Nazareth, Jesus interpreted his experience in terms of the Spirit of the Lord coming on him for the purposes described in Isaiah 61:1‑3.

Jesus’ ministry gives many examples of his words and his deeds which fulfilled this prophecy concerning the Spirit of the Lord, as Luke describes:

* bringing good news to the poor (Luke 4:38‑44; 6:17‑19);

* proclaiming liberty to captives (Luke 8:26‑39; 11:14‑23);

* giving sight to the blind (Luke 7:36‑50; 18:35‑43);

* setting free the oppressed (Luke 13:10‑17; 17:11‑19);

* announcing the Lord’s salvation (Luke 10:21-22; 12:32‑40; 18:15‑30).

Jesus answered a question about him being the Messiah by referring to that charter:

“John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’

20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, ‘John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”’

21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, illnesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’”  (Luke 7:21‑23).

Jesus’ ministry demonstrated how the Spirit of the Lord was upon him enabling him to fulfil God’s purposes. The Spirit of the Lord fulfils God’s will in the world. Jesus saw his ministry in that context. So can we.

God’s purposes were supremely fulfilled in Jesus’ atoning death, his mighty resurrection and his ascension to glory where he now has all authority in heaven and on earth. He expresses that authority through the Spirit of Lord, his Spirit, in his people. The Holy Spirit continually glorifies Christ and reveals God’s will to his people and to the world. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement by the resurrected Christ through his Spirit.  (John 16:8-15; Acts 2:32-39; 3:13-16; 17:30-31).

Our mission is to continue the ministry Jesus had. The Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Jesus, fulfils that work in and through us.

Jesus gave his disciples power and authority to do what he did (the twelve, Luke 9:1‑6; the seventy-two, Luke 10:1‑12). Then, after the resurrection he renewed that same commission:

Matthew 28:19‑20, we are to obey all Jesus commanded them to do;

Mark 16:15‑18, this applies to everyone;

Luke 24:45‑49, Jesus’ death and resurrection make it possible by his Spirit;

John 20:19‑22, we are sent as Jesus was sent by the Father in the Spirit’s power;

Acts 1:8, we are his witnesses to the whole earth, filled with the Spirit.

Further, Jesus promised us the power to do it. The Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Jesus, still empowers the servants of the Lord.

Matthew 28:18-20, all authority has been given to Jesus; he is with us:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

Mark 16:17‑18, Jesus gives believers power for mission:

“Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’”

Luke 24:44-49, Jesus said he would send the promised power:

“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’

John 20:19-23, Jesus breathed the Spirit on his followers:

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”

Acts 1:1-9, Jesus promised that his followers would be baptised in the Spirit:

“In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

The Spirit of the Lord comes on us for mission, as on Jesus, and his disciples. This is the kingdom perspective: the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Jesus, imparts power for mission.

Jesus, at the Last Supper, promised to send what the Father had promised – his Spirit.

 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)

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Iraq: Muslim from Nineveh discovered the Bible’s magnetism

Iraq: Muslim from Nineveh resisted the Bible, then discovered its ‘magnetism’

Chevan was born in Nineveh, the city where Jonah preached. His father was a sheikh and preached at the mosque, but Chevan never got interested in daily prayers. He was drawn into journalism and reported on television and movies.

As a result of his coverage of popular culture, islamic extremists targeted him. They had already killed a sportswriter friend because they were demanding “good” press. They didn’t care that a sportswriter has nothing to do with politics. Chevan didn’t write about politics either, but after he witnessed his friend gunned down in front of his eyes, he knew not to stick around.

He traveled to Syria, then Egypt, to Dubai and finally to Lebanon. His family was aware of the dangers he faced and funded his travel. While he pursued an acting career, he found a job selling ads for a magazine and two newspapers. He was getting by.

‘The pastor reached out his hand and offered him a Bible’

One day he was walking down a busy street near downtown Beirut when he ran into a pastor handing out Bibles. The pastor reached out his hand and offered a Bible to him. “No, I don’t take it,” Chevan said. “I am Muslim.” “You don’t have to be Christian to read the Bible,” pastor Gergis responded. “It’s happy news. You just read it like any other book.”

Two days later, the same pastor approached Chevan on another street, without recognizing him. This time, Chevan was annoyed. “This is the second time you told me to take the Bible, and I told you I don’t want it,” he responded gruffly. Improbably, the pastor ran into Chevan on the beach a few days later, didn’t recognize him, and offered him a Bible once more. “You know this is the third time you offer me this Bible. This time I will take it, not because I want it, but just because I want you to stop!”

Chevan took the Bible home and started reading in Genesis. He flipped through to the middle and studied some passages. He also read some passages in Revelation. He spent nearly four hours in the Word. Suddenly he was seized with curiosity to discover the “happy news.” “I wanted to read it more. I wanted to know what the secret was in this book,” he said. “It was magnetic to me. The next day, I went to the Bible, I don’t even know why. I just wanted to open it again. I felt like something amazing was in this book, but I didn’t know what it was.”

‘Then he discovered the secret behind the Bible’s magnetism’

The Sunday afterward, he found an ad in the newspaper about a church and decided to attend. Originally, his plan was to expose the Christians’ false worship. By “coincidence,” it was Pastor Gergis’ church. “People were very friendly to me. I thought I would tell them I am Muslim and they would kick me out. But they didn’t. They told me it was God’s house for everyone in any time. I was happy.”

Two months later, Chevan discovered the secret behind the Bible’s magnetism: it’s a living Word. Unlike other books, the words in the Bible are alive and they offer new life to all who believe. In response, Chevan surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and was born again. He was 29 when he received the Lord.

Later he received a refugee visa for the United States and got involved in a local church. Chevan has now been following Jesus for 10 years. He dreams about becoming a pastor in Nineveh, the place where he was born.

Source: Esteban Orozco, the names in this report have been changed for security reasons

# 1053 | September 26, 2017

 

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5 verses to pray when you want to know God’s will

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God’s Will

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God's Will - Counting My Blessings

Do you ever lie awake at night thinking, I don’t know what to do?

You have a decision to make, a problem to solve, or a path to pursue and you’ve prayed, oh how you’ve prayed but you don’t feel like God is giving you clear direction.

So, you stare at the ceiling, weigh your options, plan to do more research in the morning, and pray again…

Father, I love you and I want to glorify you with my life. This choice is hard. There are so many possibilities and I have no idea what Your will for me is in the situation. Please help me. Guide me by Your Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen. 

And you try again, to get some rest.

Whew, I’ve been there. I’m guessing you’ve been there, too.

Because my most visited post is 5 Ways to Know if Something is from God which leads me to believe I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes with the specifics of God’s will.

So, I went digging to find verses that might help us know God’s “always” will . . . when choices are hard and life is confusing.

I don't think I'm the only one who struggles to know the specifics of God's will. So I searched for verses to pray to ask God for guidance and direction.

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God’s Will

Proverbs 3:5–6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
    and He will show you which path to take.

Father, forgive me. I’m quick to ask my friends for advice and quicker to worry; yet, I’m slow to turn to Your Word or come to You in prayer. Maybe trusting with all my heart is the problem. I’m sorry. I want to surrender myself completely and trust that Your will for me always comes from Your love. Thank you for using this time to remind me just how very much I need You. And I do need You, Lord. Help me, by the power of Your Spirit. Amen.

1 Timothy 2:3–4

This is good and pleases God our Savior,
who wants everyone to be saved and
to understand the truth.

Father, Your will for me is to know and love Your Son, Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Giver of Life eternal . . . Your gift so awesome and wonderful. I’m humbled that Your will for me above all else is that I will cherish Your gift of an eternity with You through Jesus. In light of forever, my current circumstances seem less monumental. Please by Your grace, help me keep an eternal perspective as I trust You with the details of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Romans 12:1–2

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God
because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—
the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform
you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will
learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

This is hard, Father. The world is always in my face and it’s tempting to just want to fit in. You tell me not to follow the behavior and customs of this world. It’s tough. I see friendships end and people hurt because they choose to stand on the truth of Your Word. Father, I need Your transforming power to change the way I think and act. Your Word says You will show me Your good, pleasing, and perfect will and you change my heart and mind and make me a new person. I love that! Please continue to work in me and draw me close.

I love You, Lord and want to honor You with my life. Amen.

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God's Will - Counting My Blessings

Hebrews 10:10

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the
sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Father, You make me holy through Jesus, setting me apart and showing me Your truth. Thank you! I am overwhelmed by your grace, mercy, and love. Humbled that You care so much about Your children that You willingly sacrificed Yourself for us. Forgive me, Father, for ever foolishly believing I’m doing a good job enough to be declared righteous on my own. I can’t. I need You. I need Jesus. I need Your Spirit. Help me surrender to You and live under the glorious grace You so generously pour into my life. Thank you, Amen.

Romans 8:27

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying,
for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

And Father, when I get it wrong . . . which I do much of the time, I’m so very thankful for Your Spirit who pleads for me. Who knows Your will and knows exactly what I need. Thank you. You will never leave me alone to wander in the dark. By Your grace poured out through Your Spirit, You fill me, provide for me, care for me, comfort me, and guide me. Thank you, Lord. Your loving presence meets my every need and with Your help, I surrender to Your will for me. In Jesus name. Amen.

May my prayer each day be to humbly surrender to God’s will trusting His will is best for my forever and for my today.

What’s your favorite verse to pray when you need to know God’s will?

By Deb Wolf – Counting my Blessings

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See also: 5 ways to know if something is from God

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5 ways to know if something is from God

5 Ways to Know if Something is From God

5 Ways to Know if Something is from God - Counting My Blessings

Do you ever wonder whether you are following God’s will or plan for you?

Do you worry that you might be headed in the wrong direction?

Do you wish God would write His will for your day on your to-do list?

Yep, me too!

Since his ordination, Rev has received calls to serve at various ministries and I’ve had to decide whether I should go back to teaching full-time, part-time or if I should stay at home.

And work is just the beginning, isn’t it?

How many children should we have? Where should our children go to school or should we homeschool? Where should we live? Is that the right house for us? The right church family? When should I retire?

What should I do?

The questions go on and on.

Sometimes it was easy to tell where God wants us, other times are harder.

Life decisions can cause some of the greatest stress in our lives.

So the question we all want to know is…

 

There are some things we can do to test a situation and we ask for God’s guidance and seek His will.

Do you ever wonder whether you are following God's will or plan for you? Here are 5 things you can do when you want to know if something is from God.

5 Ways to Know if Something is From God

1. Pray

Begin with prayer. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is.

Start by asking God to show you His specific will for you in this situation.

Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go. Jeremiah 42:3

2. Glorify God

Ask – Does this glorify God?

 

Ask yourself, “Does this bless my relationship with my family? Does it make it possible for me to serve others? What will my attitude be if I do this? Etc.”

Give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:13

3. Agree with Scripture

Does it agree with Scripture?

God gave us His Word to show us His will. You and I can trust the counsel of the Bible.

You never have to ask God if it’s His will for you to embezzle from your employer or dish the latest dirty detail about your neighbor.

 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16

4. Be Willing to Wait

Be patient. God’s will is worth the wait. Trust His timing.

If something is God’s will, He will guide you while you wait and bring it to pass. Don’t rush it – when the timing is right God will let you know.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

5. Trust God to accomplish His will in your life

God will fulfill His promises and accomplish His will for you.

I’ll admit, I’ve gotten impatient at times. I want a clear answer and I want it now! But I’ve learned I can watch and wait . . . God will do what He says He will do, and He will accomplish His will.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

Not everything in life is clear. There will be times when you will do all the above and still be uncertain about God’s direction for you.

That’s okay.

You can trust that if God wants something specific in your life He will guide you to it.

If you’ve gone through the 5 step process and still have no clear answer . . . just keep moving. Make a choice. The good news is if you are trusting and glorifying God with your life you can move ahead confidently.

By Deb Wolf – Counting my Blessings

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See also: 5 verses to pray when you want to know God’s will

Proverbs-3

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North Korea: The blessing of forced solitude with God

North Korea: The blessing of forced solitude with God

Released Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim recently shared about how he survived his 2.5 year ordeal in a North Korean prison.

Lim was operating humanitarian efforts in North Korea before disappearing in February 2015. It turned out the DPRK had arrested him, and in December 2015 Lim was sentenced to life with hard labor for crimes against the North Korean regime.

“I was first sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life of hard labour. That was God’s grace, and gave me tremendous peace,” Lim said. “From that moment, there were days of overwhelming loneliness. From the first day of my detainment until the day I was released, I ate 2,757 meals in isolation by myself. It was difficult to see when and how the entire ordeal would end. But this isolation also gave me the opportunity to spend an extended time of solitude with God.”

During the winter Lim had to dig holes that measured one metre wide and one metre deep. The ground was frozen. The mud was so hard that it took two days to dig one hole. “It was incredibly challenging,” Lim said. “My upper body was sweating; my fingers and toes were frostbitten. I also worked inside a coal storage facility, breaking apart frozen coal.” In the spring and the summer, he worked outside, eight hours a day, in the scorching sun. One year of this difficult labour took a toll on his body and he was admitted to the hospital for two months. There would be three other occasions where he would be admitted to the hospital in a serious condition.

Prison camps in North Korea
“During my time there, I read over one hundred books on North Korea and began to grasp and gain a deeper understanding of the 70 year history that formed the nation,” Lim said. “I also was permitted a Bible that I read in both English and Korean five times and memorized over 700 Bible verses. I worshipped alone for 130 Sundays.”

“While I was laboring, I prayed without ceasing,” Lim said. “There were many difficult moments but it was during these times that God gave me the strength to endure and persevere. There were moments of discouragement, resentment, and grumbling but that soon changed into courage, joy, and thanksgiving. I learned to fully accept all of this as a form of God’s love and discipline to make me stronger. By God’s perfect and sovereign timing, I was released and returned home.”

Source: Hyeon Soo Lim, The Toronto Star

# 1050 | September 4, 2017

 

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Mongolia: Russian Christians bring God’s love to the steppes

Mongolia: Russian Christians bring God’s love to the steppes

Young Christians from Russia are passionately reaching out to unreached people groups on the steppes of Western Mongolia.

Mongolia is one of the world’s least-densely populated countries, with just over three million people. More than half live in the bustling capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The rest of Mongolia, which is roughly three times the size of France, has vast, treeless grasslands, where most people live a nomadic lifestyle raising sheep, goats, cattle, camels and horses.

CBN correspondent George Thomas recently joined 46 Christians from neighboring Russia heading to four remote Mongolian provinces where few have heard the message of Christ’s love. Russian pastor and missionary Pavel Barsokov led the mission. “The heart of my Lord Jesus Christ is for the lost and hurting,” he said. “I want to have the same heart.” From his home in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, he regularly takes the difficult two day drive to Western Mongolia.

Each time he comes, he brings with him young Russian Christians trained and equipped to serve as possible missionaries and evangelists. “What I am attempting to do is raise a new generation of Russian believers who will have an understanding of Christ’s love for the world and the role they must play in bringing the good news to the unreached.”

One of these young people is Natasha Gorodnuk who wants to serve as a missionary to Nepal. “Every time I think about it, my heart breaks because I know the calling on my life and I know what I’m supposed to do,” she said.

For several weeks Natasha and four-dozen other Russians partnered with Mongolian Christians to hold evangelistic camps for young people to see their lives changed. Lives like that of 22-year-old Buyanaa Davaasambuu. She accepted Christ while attending camp here as a little girl. Davaasambuu graduated from Bible college in May and is preparing to go on the mission field. For others like 16-year-old Mashbat Bassan, a Buddhist, this was the first time learning about Christianity. “Before coming to this camp, I never heard about God,” he said. “I learned in the Bible study today that this God created the heavens and the earth, the animals and creatures of the sea. I never knew.”

Shortly after the fall of communism, there were only ten believers in the entire country. Today, 26 years later, some 60,000 believers are spread across this vast nation.

Source: Pavel Barsokov, Natasha Gorodnuk, George Thomas

# 1050 | September 4, 2017

 

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All Saints: How a church turned into a farm

USA: How a church turned into a farm

Michael Spurlock and his wife Aimee firmly believe in the power of prayer and stepping out in faith – even when it doesn’t make sense.

In 2007, the Spurlocks were assigned to All Saints’ Episcopal Church, a struggling church in Smyrna, Tennessee with just a few dozen members and a devastating amount of debt. “I was just out of seminary – I’d never been the pastor of a church before,” Michael told The Gospel Herald during an interview. “I had no idea what I was doing. We were sent down to see what should happen; should we close the church? Should we sell the property? Could we make a go of it? That’s when everything began.”

‘We were on the verge of closing down when the refugees came’

The church was on the verge of closing when a group of Karen refugees forced out of Myanmar unexpectedly joined them. With little resources, growing financial issues, and a language barrier, the congregation was unsure of how to minister to the group’s physical and spiritual needs. “When the refugees showed up, we just turned a radical corner in the life of the parish,” Michael said.

Faced with closure, Michael came up with an unusual solution: he decided to start a farm on church property. However, as they didn’t receive the support of their church officials, the Spurlocks were forced to rely on faith. “Oftentimes, I just didn’t feel equipped to handle the enormity of the problems facing the church,” admitted Michael. “But, God sustained me and saw me through it. He encouraged me when I would get discouraged.”

The people of All Saints, along with the Karen refugees, worked tirelessly on the farm, allowing them to pay the church’s bills and feed all of the people. “We were praying throughout the whole experience,” Michael said. “Sometimes, the provision was so miraculous… you could feel the presence of God there.” Nearly a decade later, All Saints is a thriving church – in fact, it’s more robust than ever.

‘Christian hospitality led to the resurrection of the church’

“Basic Christian hospitality led to the resurrection in that church,” Michael said. “A simple adherence to Jesus’ command to love one another, to welcome the stranger, to not be judging who should and shouldn’t attend your church. Just the openness to those possibilities changed everything, it was so far beyond our imagining what God wound up doing there.”

The Spurlock’s inspiring story of faith and perseverance is the subject of the new faith-based drama, released by AFFIRM Films on August 25, appropriately titled “All Saints”. The real All Saints church and farmland were used as a backdrop for the production. The Spurlocks hope their story inspires others to open their hearts – and their church doors – to the least of these (Matthew 25:40).

Watch the movie trailer

Source: Michael and Aimee Spurlock, Gospel Herald

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BLOGS INDEX 5: IMAGES (PHOTOS FROM BOOKS & FACEBOOK)

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