MISSIONS

MISSIONS

These words were written by the late Minister Bruce Halstead, my friend, brother & ministry partner. He was on the cusp of integrating his treasure trove of knowledge combined with his love for Christ & community to start a reformed church in the downtown area of West Palm Beach, FL 

We exchanged hours of ideas and scriptures. We pounded the pavement looking for those who were shut in, hurt by the church, to minister Life and hope to their souls. His passing was sudden and deeply saddening.

This detailed text on Missions is the last comprehensive text he shared with me. Take your time through it, and respectfully enjoy it.

God bless you.

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The Hidden Will Of God

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

Genesis‬ ‭50:20

When we look at scripture, we see what God has given for us to know. We find His promises, His character, His commands, and His revealed will for our lives, amongst other things. The way in which these things work themselves out in the lives of the characters in the Bible are varied in many ways.


In the book of Job, we find a man suffering for what seems to be no apparent reason. Yahweh calls him His servant and points out how he has lived a righteous life. Satan challenges that notion and says, in essence, that Job is only the way he is because of the good things in his life. God proceeds to allow Satan to basically do any and everything but kill Job. As readers of this story, it is easy for us to draw certain conclusions like “Job should know better” this is because we have the information in front of us. We see why these things are happening to Job, but from the perspective of the people in the story, it is a mystery, or is it?


In the life of Joseph, found towards the end of the book of Genesis, we find that there is a lot of drama in this story. Joseph is betrayed by his brothers, sold into bondage in Egypt, falsely accused of adultery and thrown into prison, and experienced living through a great famine. Throughout all of the suffering, and injustices that Joseph experienced, nothing we read infers that Joseph knew what was going to happen next, but what we do find is that Joseph held on to what he already knew.
We must challenge our hearts, and ask the question, how much faith do I have in the will of God for my life, and the lives of others? How much does an individual trust that though he does not know why he has lost his mom, he doesn’t know why his son was murdered, or he doesn’t know why he is paralyzed from the waist down, that God is working out His will for His glory and for our good, in that order? As my good friend Doug told me recently, sometimes people have faith that is a mile wide and inch deep, and when suffering comes, the life of a Christian doesn’t seem so appealing anymore.


I recently had some tests done that showed some signs of a problem with my liver, and I need to do some further tests to see what the issue might be. The results could be just about anything at this point. This was probably the first time in my life that I had to think about something happening to me healthwise that could potentially be life threatening. To my own surprise, my mind did not instantly move towards a prayer for healing, but I suddenly had a great movement in my heart and mind towards how good God is. I say none of this to make myself out to be some kind of a super Christian, but as an admonition for us to always be thinking about God’s goodness--come what may.


A songwriter once said, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” We must hold tight to the truth that God is sovereign over all things that come to pass. If we remember, and hide in our hearts what God has revealed to us in His Word, then when something happens that we in our finite minds do not expect, our response will be very different. It is the difference between Israel wanting to go back to the leeks and the onions of Egypt, and Job saying “though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.”

“May we always remember that the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29


Prayer
Heavenly Father. The sun, moon, and stars are in your hands, the nations are a drop in a bucket in your sight, and You own the cattle on a thousand hills. And yet, in your tender love and mercy, you show great care in even the smallest details of our lives. Help us to remember your goodness in the midst of the most crushing circumstances. Help us not to fear the unknown but to embrace what we do know--that you are faithful, just, and righteous. We ask these things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, your Son and our Saviour. Amen.

Jesus Paid It All

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Philippians 3:3

We have received the blessed Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ sealing us unto the day of redemption. There is now no need to have confidence in the flesh that will perish. It is the Spirit that gives life, abundantly. As we have been taught in the Holy Scriptures, let us abide, not looking to justify ourselves before God in the sight of men. That is a sin, and also a tragedy. It is the Father who justifies all. The Israel of God is to be obedient to Him and led by His Holy Spirit. There is no need to look at endless genealogies to understand who you are. Look to Christ. Understand who you are in Him and to Him. Live free in this Sacrifice, teaching and preaching the truth to all people, not just some, because Christ is not a respecter of persons. He has opened the door of salvation for all who will believe upon His Holy Name and resurrection. Israel of the Spirit, continue in steadfastness and faith all the days of your journey preaching the truth without variance.

-BR

Thus Saith The LORD

 

“Thus saith the LORD” 

A message to the Church

“Thus saith the LORD” is a phrase that appears over 400 times in the King James Version of the Bible, or to put the phrase in the vernacular “This is what the LORD says.” It is a declarative phrase that Yahweh uses Himself, and it is often used when God is speaking through his prophets in the Old Testament. Our understanding of this phrase is important with respect to how we view the revelation of God in scripture. Wherever we find this phrase, it is often followed by covenant reminders (Isaiah 49:8), comfort (Isaiah 44:2), judgments (Jeremiah 7:20), etc., but the underlying message is always truth--a truth that comes from God alone, though some often doubt this fact. 

As with many things in life, there are extremes with how we speak of what God has revealed in scripture. Jon Doe endeavors to speak with authority on subjects where the Bible is silent. Thinking himself to be an arbiter of truth, and making the Christian circle so small that only he himself can stand in it with one foot. On the other hand, we have Joe Public who speaks as if the Bible is so unclear that we just can’t know much of anything definitively , and can hardly make any declarative statements. He tends to be the person who thinks of Christianity in a  “least common denominator” kind of way where all you have to do is use the name, Jesus, in a few sentences to be identified as a Christian. Both of these people’s ideas have their dangers, but I will focus on the latter. Here is one of the dangers with that line of thinking:

“By reducing biblical doctrines to opinions...denies both Scripture's clarity and its authority. [Therefore] Because the Bible is unclear, the chorus of divergent interpretations are all granted equal validity. This means, then, that the authority of any one viewpoint (as that which is correct) vanishes, since all sides are equally reduced to nothing more than personal opinion.” --The Master’s Seminary Journal

There is a tension in scripture where, right now, we see through a glass darkly and only know certain things in part (paraphrasing I Corinthians 13:12), but at the same time, scripture tells us that God has revealed Himself and His ways with clarity, and in a way that we can understand Him (Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Psalm 19:7-9, 2 Peter 16:21). Where does that now leave us then? I submit to you that  the problem is not found in God’s Word, but with us, and the following passage gives us a good reason why that is so:

God said to Adam “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it, you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

I think it is safe to say that there is nothing ambiguous or unclear about this passage with respect to what should and should not be eaten, and yet, Adam still ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now we find ourselves, as Albert Mohler would say, in a Genesis 3 world.

If it ended there, we would ultimately find ourselves in a state of hopelessness, but God is not in the business of hopelessness. There is a word in scripture that is used to help us to understand how we can see God’s Word with clarity, and that word is discernment. We are told in scripture that even in our fallenness, as God’s people, we can recognize what God is communicating to us, but we must be spiritually discerning, and that discerning comes down from our heavenly Father.  Thanks be to God.

“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5

Prayer

Gracious heavenly Father, you have spoken to us clearly in your word, and yet we, like the serpent, say in our hearts “has God said?” We bring our experiences, our pride, and our creeds, and force them into your Word to make them more palpable to our own desires. Forgive us LORD for these sins. We give you thanks for your Word, its power, its fullness, and the comfort that it brings. In a world of confusion, it is refreshing to know that you have given us a standard of truth. We ask that, by your Holy Spirit, you would reveal your word to us, that we might use great plainness of speech as we engage with the world around us. Help us to grow our knowledge and understanding of Scripture so we can boldly make the declaration, “Thus saith the LORD”, acknowledging your word as true. In Christ Jesus we pray. Amen

 

written by Bobby Valcin