The Focus of Your Love

…Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?…

—John 21:15

Christ asked three times in John 21 if Peter loved Him. In verse 15 the question was whether Peter loved Him “more than these.” We’ve probably heard various explanations for what Christ meant by the word “these.” Some say it is a question of Peter’s love compared to the love that the other disciples had for the Lord. Or whether Peter loved Christ more than he loved the fish they had just caught. Or possibly whether he loved the Lord more than the other disciples did. More generally, I have heard pastors talk about whether Peter loved Christ more than the secular work in which he was engaged.

I think those are all good topics to speculate about and to draw meaning from; however, I would like to draw your thoughts to the idea that Christ was challenging Peter to focus his love on the Lord more than just doing ministry for ministry’s sake. Christ asked Peter to feed His sheep. Peter was asked to do ministry as a result of his love for the Lord.

Called to Love

It is encouraging to hear a veteran missionary talk about the work the Lord has called him to do. They often talk about the love they have for the people, country and culture to whom they are called to minister. Not only is it encouraging to hear from veterans, but it also offers a challenge to us to check and see if we are in love with the ministry the Lord has called us to do.

Sometimes, doesn’t it feel a bit empty for a new missionary to talk passionately about the love they have for the people and culture of the place they are called to serve? They have yet to fully experience the challenges of doing the ministry in a new place or culture. There is no doubt that young missionaries should have a zeal for the work of God. Yet, I propose that above focusing on loving the country and culture, the missionary should focus on loving God first and then a love for the people will follow.

If your love for the Lord is strong then He will help you to love the people to whom you are called.

Having lived in Mexico for a few years, there are many things I love about the country, culture and people. At least I can say that now. But the day I stood in line for 7 hours at the Mexican DMV to get a license plate for a recently purchased car was not a day I was feeling great love for the system. Even less so that night when I was complaining about it in church and a man praised the Lord on my behalf because it went so quickly for me.

There are days that a missionary may not love the country to which he is called. There are moments when he will question whether he has enough love for the people. Yet, if he will remember that he is called to love the Lord first, then his love for the people will grow.

Do You Love Cats?

Let me remind you of the illustration of a little girl who found a stray cat and immediately fell in love. Her daddy had no interest or love for the cat. But as days went by and he saw the love that his child had for the pitiful creature, he too began to love the stray. This love for the creature grew because of his love for the little girl. Because he loved her, he began to love the things that she loved.

It is a simple illustration, but certainly we can learn from this. If you will love God supremely, then you will develop a love for the people that God loves.

Challenge to Young Missionaries

I know that you are excited about your ministry—as well you should be—but don’t neglect to develop your love for the Lord. As your love for the Lord and the things of God grows, you will love those around you properly.

It is possible to develop an unhealthy love for the mission field and ministry. Though we don’t often think of these things as idolatry, you can easily misplace your love for the Lord into people, places and projects. You will then create an idol that steals your focus from the Lord. That is an unhealthy spiritual situation for you and can lead those around you into an unhealthy, or false, relationship with God.

Life on the mission field is filled with stories of victories that you see in the lives of people as the Lord works. There are also great experiences that you will cherish your entire life. But there are also challenges on the field. Going to the field “because I love the people” is very shallow and will not help keep you in the ministry. Because there will be some days that you find it difficult to love the people on the field. For myself, there were times that I did not love the people of Mexico. Yet if you will put your focus on loving God first, then when things get tough on the field you will be there for the right reasons.

Pray and Love God Supremely

Church member, pray for the missionaries you support and encourage them in their spiritual growth. Missionaries are very much like the people in your church. The things you struggle with, the missionary struggles with. The challenges you face daily, the missionary faces. Yet the missionary is going through all of this while on the front lines of the ministry, while in a foreign land, while missing the comforts of home, while battling the forces of Satan for the souls of men. Missionaries need your prayers and encouragement to do the work.

Missionary, love Christ supremely and you will be able to love the people He has called you to.

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The Primary Motive For Missions

Just before ascending into Heaven, the Lord Jesus charged His disciples to take the Gospel across every cultural and geographical boundary unto every people group. There are several motives for us to be involved in missions, yet I think there is a primary reason.

Command

We are motivated because God commanded us. The fact that God said go should motivate every believer. How do we who want to please the Lord get around, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” This charge is a mandate from our Monarch, a command from our Commander, an edict from the Emperor. It is an order to be obeyed and a duty to be done. As soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ we can do nothing less than take the Gospel to the world. God commanded us; this is a motivation for missions.

Everlasting Fire

We are motivated because there is everlasting fire. God created Hell for the Devil and his angels; nevertheless, the justice of God demands that sinners are doomed to the same punishment. For thousands of years the rich man and millions like him have been screaming, “I am tormented in this flame!” This thought will motivate the coolest heart among us if it is meditated upon long enough. Without a doubt, Hell moves us to compassion: “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” There is a Hell; this is a motivation for missions.

Rewards

We are motivated by rewards. According to Scriptures those who are faithful in missions are promised crowns, power, and position. Who hasn’t envisioned giving their crown back to the Savior? Who hasn’t wondered what position will be theirs during the Millennial Kingdom and throughout eternity. The Lord indeed promises rewards to those who are faithful; rewards are a motivation for missions.

Grace

We are motivated because of God’s grace. God saves sinners. We deserve damnation. We deserve alienation and abandonment. Yet, in spite of us, God became a man in order to save you and me. How can recipients of such grace enjoy the blessings and benefits of this grace without feeling compelled to share what they have with those who have no Bible, who have no church, who have no Savior, who have no hope. God’s grace reached me and it reached you; this is a motivation for missions.

Christ is Worthy

We are motivated because Jesus is worthy. Without a doubt this is the primary reason. Jesus is worthy to have His name published throughout the world. He is worthy to have His salvation clearly offered to all people! He is worthy because He is Sovereign, because He is Creator, because He is holy, because He is righteous, because He is love, because He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and immutable. Jesus is altogether lovely, the fairest of the fair, the Bright and Morning Star! No wonder Hudson Taylor said, “If I had 1,000 lives I’d give them all to China.” If for no other reason, we do missions because He is worthy!

’Not called!’ did you say?

‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say!

Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.

— General William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army

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SMART Advice: Check The Timing Belt On Your Car

If you own a motor vehicle please consider this question, “Does its engine have a timing belt, or a timing chain?” If your response is, “I don’t know,” that is quite normal. However, I hope you did not include, “…and quite honestly I don’t care.” If it did, please stop for five minutes to read this article as your bank account could benefit from the information that follows.

What Is Engine Timing?

Two types of timing occur in an engine. First, consider spark timing, wherein an electrical impulse is sent to a spark plug so as to ignite the fuel/air mixture at just the right time. Secondly, there is valve timing which involves opening and closing valves in each cylinder to control the flow of air, fuel and exhaust gases. When the valves do not open or close at just the right time problems can occur: engine power and fuel economy are decreased; an engine could be severely damaged if a piston collides with a valve which is sticking into the cylinder. The process of valve timing is controlled either by a timing belt or a timing chain.

Clarification

A timing belt is not the same as a serpentine belt; they are significantly different so don’t confuse the two.

The serpentine belt drives accessories like a water pump, alternator or power steering pump; it is externally visible and easily replaceable. A broken serpentine belt will cause the accessories to stop turning without harming the engine.

A timing belt is totally different; it is internal, hidden behind a protective cover.

The Differences Between Belt And Chain

A brief comparison can help one understand the differences between a timing belt and timing chain.

Timing Belt

  • Made of rubber—same material as a fan belt; not very durable
  • Manufacturer intends it to be replaced around every 70,000 miles

Timing Chain

  • Steel links held together with steel pins, like a bicycle chain on steroids; very durable
  • Designed to last the life of the engine, usually 250,000 miles or more

As a timing belt does its job the rubber will slowly deteriorate. At around 100,000 miles it will have weakened allowing for the possibility that it could slip or even break; this will allow a valve to remain stuck open. A moving piston which collides with an open valve can easily inflict $1000—or more—damage to the engine. In some cases it can render the engine irreparable.

What To Do

First, identify which engine is in your vehicle: gas or diesel? Now, what size is your engine? Raising the hood and looking at the engine might give you the answer. Often it is displayed using a couple of large numbers like 2.4L, 3.6L, 4.2L, etc.

Secondly, find out if your particular engine has a timing chain or timing belt by checking a service manual or through an internet search. If yours has a timing belt and you don’t know when/or if it was replaced you really should make plans to replace it in the foreseeable future. Choosing to wait until it breaks could end up being a very costly decision on your part.

One final thought, timing belts are not expensive; $50 on average. However, to properly replace one requires meticulous attention to detail. If the internal engine timing is not properly aligned when replacing the parts the engine could suffer serious damage the first time it gets started. The task really ought not to be trusted to a mechanic who has marginal skills.

Other Resources

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Praying for Muslims During Ramadan

Ramadan is an Islamic practice that mainly involves fasting. However, it is also a time that many Muslims are more vigilant in prayer and in studying the Quran. While Christians do not participate in this practice, it is a good time for us to be reminded to pray for the spiritual needs of the Muslim world.

Ramadan begins at dawn tomorrow, May 26, 2017, and continues until sunset on June 25. Muslims will be focused more on their spiritual life during this month. What a wonderful time to reach out to the Muslims you know and share with them the freedom we find in Christ.

As you pray for Muslims, pray that missionaries who work with them on a daily basis will be especially effective through Ramadan.

Here are seven ways you can pray for your Muslim friends.

To Know the One True God

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3

We know who God is through His Word. There are some Muslims who are curious about the teachings of the Bible. During this time of heightened spiritual focus, pray that they will be more willing to listen to the teachings of the Bible or even begin to read the Word of God.

To Know Satisfaction in Christ

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:35

Our Muslim friends are enduring a physical fast for the next 30 days. Their bodies will be hungering and thirsting for physical food. Pray that God will show them their need of spiritual nourishment and satisfaction that we can have through Jesus Christ.

That Christians Will Tell

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19, 20

Pray that God would help you and other Christians to speak up with the Gospel. We are told to go with the Gospel. Just because we don’t go to a foreign land as a full-time missionary does not negate our responsibility. In a local sense we are going somewhere every day. Pray that we will share Christ as we go about our day.

To See God as Provider

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

Many Muslims are more generous with others in need during Ramadan. Pray that they will understand their poverty and inability to pay for their salvation through good works towards God and their fellow man. Christ offered Himself to provide everything we need to stand justified before God.

To Accept the Invitation of Christ

And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. Revelation 16:9

Ramadan fasting is not a total fast for the entire month. The fast is a daily fast lasting from sunrise to sunset. Each evening they gather with friends and family to partake in a meal. We are invited to a special meal in Heaven called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Pray that our Muslim friends will heed the invitation to this glorious meal.

That Christians Would Love

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. Mark 6:34

We are called to love the world around us as Christ did. Pray that God would give you a love for others, especially our Muslim friends. And pray specifically that your church would have a greater love for Muslims in your area.

That Missionaries Will Be Effective

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. 2 Thessalonians 3:1, 2

Pray also for missionaries who are involved directly in reaching out to Muslims around them. Pray that the Word of God will be effective in its purpose, that God’s Word would be glorified through the lives of the missionaries, and that God would protect them from the evil deeds of those who do not believe in the God of the Bible.

Will You Pray?

Will you pray for Muslims during this time? It is a time when they are spiritually sensitive to their religion. It could mean that they become more adamant about what they believe. But, with your prayer and demonstrations of love during Ramadan, God can do a great work in the Muslim world.

I pray that He does.

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Dispensationalism and Missions

Often in many of our schools the study of missions and the study of theology are considered parallel disciplines. This usually works out to missions becoming one of many programs in the local church rather than it being the heart and soul of the church. Our faith should be more than a creed and a list of commandments. It should center on the person of Christ and His eternal purpose. The eternal purpose of God is the redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:8-11). This eternal purpose is clearly manifested in the dispensations of Scripture. We see God through Christ pursuing mankind in every age (dispensation). The culmination of these dispensations is found in Ephesians 1:10, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”

From the very beginning of Scriptures the Spirit of God displays the heart of God in the sweet fellowship that must have taken place between Adam and Eve and God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8, The Age of Innocence). In the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15) The Age of Conscience begins. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Here is the first mention of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve must have enjoyed such sweet fellowship walking with God in the cool of the day; yet, in one vile stroke, Satan, sin and self-will had severed that sweet relationship. Praise God, the LORD immediately stepped in with the promise of a Redeemer. Satan would be defeated. Sin would be paid in full. And self-will would be clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

In The Age of Government the Self-Existing God institutes something new. He establishes a covenant with a diseased and dying mankind (the law of first mention applies here). Genesis 6:18, “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.” Here we learn of the sacredness of blood and life (Genesis 9:4-6), and it is here that Shem, Ham, and Japheth are told to multiply. Nations (people groups) come into existence (Genesis 10:5). God has made the first move in His eternal purpose (a people for Himself through Christ). Subsequently, the concept of a blood-sealed covenant has become a part of every people and every culture.

Even though The Age of Promise rests in the foundational covenant of God with Israel (the Abrahamic Covenant), the heart of God for a peculiar people from all nations is again revealed. One of the blessings that Abraham received was that all nations or people groups would be blessed in his seed. Genesis 22:18a, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…” The seed of the woman found in the protoevangelium is now promised through Abraham. God is proactive and ever on the move toward His eternal purpose, redeeming mankind.

The Age of Law begins with God establishing a conditional covenant with Israel (Exodus 24:7-8). We know that Israel did not keep this covenant (the Mosaic Covenant) and as a result were exiled from the Promised Land. God allowed them to return to the land, but eventually they became known as the Diaspora after their final rejection of Christ in the book of Acts. Their abnegation of the Mosaic Covenant does not negate the unconditional promises made to Israel through Abraham, but it vividly illustrates the inadequacy of man and the all-sufficiency of Christ. Galatians 3:24 is clear, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Mankind is cursed by the law; yet we have life through Christ. Hebrews 9:15, “And for this cause he [Christ] is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Again, God’s eternal purpose is clearly seen in the law, to bring mankind unto Christ.

In this Church Age, The Age of Grace, God has incorporated the church into His eternal purposesinto missions! Since the day of Pentecost, the baton has been passed to believers in Christ. God does not desire us to do; He simply asks us to surrender to Christ so that He may use us to procure a people for Himself. Like Paul, the dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto every believer in Christ (1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 1:10, 3:2-6, Colossians 1:25).

The result shall be a holy and peculiar people worshiping and serving God in The Age of the Kingdom (foreshadowed and promised in the Davidic Covenant). Revelation 5:9-10, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” John saw a peculiar and holy people called out of every tribe, tongue, and people group. He saw the eternal purpose of God, the glorious work of missions, fulfilled!

Oswald J. Smith said it succinctly, “The mission of the church is missions.”

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