July 2013

Posted by on Jul 27, 2013 in Newsletters | 6 comments

Dear CBM Family,

“What a mighty God we serve!”  I now sing that line from the well-known praise song with a greater understanding of and appreciation for its truth after returning from my recent trip to western Kenya.  What our team witnessed during those three weeks of ministry was the mighty power of God on display in the lives of hundreds of people — men and women, students and teachers, widows and orphans, young and old alike.  So many of you were praying here at home, and God moved in response to those prayers, faithfully, graciously and mightily.  During the trip I was reminded of how God accomplishes His mighty work of building His church and advancing His kingdom on earth — through His Word, the Bible.  What God accomplished on this mission wasn’t because of Bobby, Andrew or me; it wasn’t because of Elijah, Eliazar, Thomas, Tobias or the other Kenyan pastors who were part of our team.  It was because of His Word, which He promises will always accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sends it (Isa. 55:11).

To help us better understand this truth, God uses two wonderful metaphors or “word pictures” in describing His Word as the source of our life and our power.  First of all, the Word of God is a SEED.  This is the picture we see in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.  Seed sown by a farmer falls on different types of soil, yielding different results.  The seed is “the word of the kingdom” (v. 19), or the gospel, and the soil is the human heart in various stages of preparedness — hard (v. 19), rocky (v. 20), thorny (v. 22) and good (v. 23).  In only one type of soil does the seed germinate and thrive — the good soil.  The seed of the Word brings forth in life in the “heart soil” of those who have been prepared by the Spirit of God to receive it.  James says that we were “brought forth (i.e., ‘birthed’) by the word of truth” which, like a seed “implanted” in us, “is able to save our souls” (1:18, 21).  Peter conveys a similar thought to his readers:  “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).  The Word of God is the source of spiritual life.

Second, the Word of God is a SWORD — the source of spiritual power.  The Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” in its ability to penetrate the deepest recesses of the human heart, bringing conviction of sin and contrition or brokenness over sin, leading to repentance and faith (Heb. 4:12).  This is why Paul could say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes …” (Rom. 1:16).   In describing the various components of the believer’s spiritual armor in Ephesians 6, Paul identifies “the sword of the Spirit” as “the word of God” (v. 17).  This “sword” is our only offensive weapon in the on-going struggle against the spiritual forces that seek to defeat us (v. 12).  As we learn from the life of our Savior, it’s the Word of God that gives us victory over temptation and sin, causing Satan to flee (Matt. 4:1-11).  As John MacArthur has noted, “The Word of God is like a lion — you don’t have to defend it; just let it out of its cage and it can take care of itself.”  And it can take care of us, too, as both the source of our life as well as the source of our power and protection against the enemy!

We witnessed this firsthand in Kenya as light dispelled darkness and new life was birthed through the power of God’s Word.  For 18 straight days I preached and/or taught the Word of God in a variety of settings in the cities of Kisii and Ogembo (eight days) and on Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria (10 days):

“House” sermons (5).  These were primarily lunch meetings in pastors’ homes in which I was asked to share from the Word.  I didn’t have a prepared message most of the time, but God brought specific passages of Scripture to mind and gave me the words to say.  On one occasion, I talked about our spiritual blessings in Christ from Eph. 1:2-7, and 10 people received Christ.  During another meeting in the home of an elderly pastor (age 70), I preached on comfort for troubled hearts from John 14:1-6.  Seven people, including the pastor’s 100+ year-old mother who was from a Catholic background, trusted Christ as Savior.  During a meeting with widows and orphans, I shared several Scriptures detailing God’s love and care for widows and the fatherless.  Two young widows and one older widower received Christ.

 Church meetings (8).  I had the opportunity to minister to five local fellowships, teaching five lessons on personal purity/holiness and debt-free living, and preaching three sermons from Ps. 32, Jer. 33 and John 9.  I also prayed with several people who were suffering from various physical afflictions, a childless woman, and a woman who was separated from her unbelieving husband.  Eight adults and six children received Christ, and at one of the meetings, 10 adults came forward (on their own) to make a public commitment to living debt-free.

 Pastors Conference (1).  Thirty two pastors from the Ogembo area attended this one-day conference in which I taught two three-hour sessions on principles of spiritual leadership from the life of Paul (Acts 27), and shepherding the flock (1 Pet. 5:1-4).  We were able to present Bibles in the Ekegusii language to those pastors who didn’t have one.  Following the meeting, one of the pastors (after consulting with his church board) told me that his church would be withdrawing from the liberal denomination they were affiliated with and uniting with Ogembo Church.  When I asked the reason for his decision, the pastor replied, “Because of what you shared today from the Word of God, I now know the kind of church God wants us to be and the kind of pastor God wants me to be.”  The power of the Word of God!

 School meetings (11).  We ministered in a number of private and public schools, and in one Christian school.  The public school teachers were on strike, but they were kind enough to assemble the students on the days that we came so they could hear the Word of God.  We heard many comments from head teachers such as, “The students have been eager for your coming and are anxious to see you” and “To us this is a great blessing to have you here; feel most welcome.”  One head teacher who was away heard that his school would be receiving visitors and “thought they were union officials.  I was glad when I learned it was a ministry team who had come to share with us good things from God and to bring us closer to God.”  I taught lessons on the fruit of the Spirit (love); creation, the Fall, salvation; the “unknown God” (Acts 17); the man born blind (John 9), and sexual purity to secondary students.  Some of the schools had 300-400 students in attendance for our meetings, and at every school the students were so excited to see us and were very attentive and responsive to the messages.  The number of students who professed faith in Christ was too numerous to count, as was the number of those who committed to remain sexually pure until marriage.

 Open-air evangelistic meetings (7).  These were held in local gathering places such as fishing beaches and town markets.  One of the meetings was rain-shortened, so I preached a short, simple gospel message and two men trusted Christ as their Savior.  Preaching on the theme of hope from John 9 and Jer. 33, nearly 200 children and adults made public professions of faith in Christ during these meetings.  At one meeting, 10 adults trusted Christ, including several elderly men of the community (“bad men, very resistant to the gospel,” according to one of the pastors) and the son and daughter-in-law of the local pastor.

My ministry teammates, Bobby Johnson and Andrew Hill, preached and taught at several schools and open-air meetings as well.  By the end of the mission, over 970 people had professed faith in Christ, and over 600 students made sexual purity commitments by God’s grace and with His help.  God’s Word had truly accomplished what He desired and achieved the purpose for which He sent it!  We will continue working with the local pastors in discipling these new believers and assimilating them into local churches, assisting local widows in becoming self-supporting (Interlocking Ministries purchased two sewing machines to take to the island and helped initiate a poultry project for about 30 widows on Mfangano), and assisting with various building projects as the Lord supplies the funds.  Here are two specific needs that I wanted to let you know about:

 (1) Providing a permanent (metal) roof for the home of Pastor Tobias Nzenze on Mfangano, which currently has a thatch roof in dire need of replacement.  The sheet metal has been provided; what remains is the need for lumber for the support structure.  Cost:  $175.00.

(2) Phase two of construction of a permanent meeting place for Ogembo Church (finishing brick and stone work).  Cost:  $2,000.00.  The church is currently meeting outside, adjacent to the building they’re renting and using for their Christian school.  If you would like to help with either of these needs, please designate “Pastor Tobias” or “Building” on your check payable to CBM-GSW.  I cannot emphasize strongly enough how essential your partnership was and is to the success of this mission.  Thank you so much for going with us into the harvest through your faithful prayers and sacrificial gifts!

To the Praise of His Glory,

Scott

6 Comments

  1. b. Heb. 11:1 [NKJV] – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

  2. The work of Christ in salvation has still another major aspect of what is called in the Bible “propitiation,” “the sacrifice of atonement,” or satisfying God’s righteous demands or judgment upon a sinner. Illustrations of this can be found in Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2; 4:10. The idea of propitiation is that God as a righteous God must demand punishment for those who sin against Him. Christ in His death on the cross provided propitiation, atonement, or satisfaction of that claim, so that God is fully satisfied now in saving a person who does not deserve to be saved. Following immediately the statement concerning redemption in Romans 3:24, verses 25 and 26 say, “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” The expression, “sacrifice of atonement,” literally means a sacrifice of propitiation, or a sacrifice of satisfaction. In Christ’s death on the cross, as this passage states, God is justified in having forgiven sins in the Old Testament even before the sacrifice was made. Christ’s dying on the cross now demonstrates God’s justice in forgiving sins of the past as well as sins to be committed in the future. Accordingly, God is both just Himself and able to justify, or declare righteous, those who have faith in Jesus.

  3. There is probably no sin more condemned in the Bible than that of idolatry. The Bible teaches that we are to worship God alone. Why? Because only God is worthy to be worshiped. God’s law says, “Thou shalt have none other gods before me…. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them” (Dt. 5:7-9). When tempted by Satan, Christ said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Lk. 4:8). When the Apostle John fell in worship before one of God’s mighty angels, the angel rebuked him and told him to worship God. “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Rev. 22:8-9). When Cornelius the centurion fell in worship before the Apostle Peter, Peter clearly rejected the offer of worship: “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Ac. 10:25-26).

  4. With all the thousands of religions in the world, perhaps you are wondering why you should trust Jesus Christ for eternal life? It is because the Bible is God’s Word. Not one spadeful of archeologist’s dirt has ever disproved the Bible. Not one Evolutionist has ever disproved the Bible. Not one enemy of God has ever proven their argument. Yet, the Bible is 100% accurate on everything it says. The Bible hits home describing the evil world (1st John 5:19). The Bible accurately teaches that Satan appears as an angel of light, and his false sinister ministers as ministers of righteousness (2nd Corinthians 11:13-15). The Bible is so honest, and accurate and telling.

  5. Zechariah saw this infant Jesus as the rising sun coming to us from heaven “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). He is the light of the world who makes us also the light of the world in him.

  6. What provides faith is identified in 2 Peter 1:1 as “…the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” There’s some discussion about this statement, but I think the translation of the New American Standard Bible is accurate and is supported by the Greek text of this passage. God and Savior refer to the same person. That person is identified as Jesus Christ. What we have is a declaration of the deity of Christ. In fact, that deity is brought out in several ways. A rule of Greek grammar applies here. When you have two nouns the same case — singular nouns — the first one has the definite article the, and the second one doesn’t. The second one refers to the same thing or the same person as the first. So you have here, literally, “the God of us and Savior.” That one article the ties the two words — the two nouns, God and Savior — together. Peter is talking about the same person, and He is both God and Savior.

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