21 May 2008
“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” – Rev 19:10
Floods, Earthquakes, Famines, and Plagues.
We have just returned from six weeks in China, India, and Pakistan. After such a long time, and so many miles, it is easy for all the events to blend into a collage of images and sensations. I did not realize one amazing connection until the jet-lag began to fade. That is, the prophetic power of the word of God.
We hear much about ‘prophetic preaching” and “prophetic statements”, especially in certain circles. The majority of so-called ‘prophetic ministry” is baloney. There are charlatans who will use deception in the name of truth for selfish personal gain. This is not what I am speaking about. This kind of activity is rightly condemned. But we must understand that when the word is spoken in the power of the Spirit of God, it has force in addressing both present situations in our lives, and also future conditions of which we are unaware.
What was brought home to me in an astounding way is how the Bible is not only relevant to our present needs, but also how it speaks to our future spiritual requirements. When Jesus Christ is proclaimed, our destinies are foreshadowed. That destiny will be the outworking of how we respond to God’s word at the time, not knowing what the future holds. It is no wonder Jesus said, “Therefore, take heed how you hear” (Luk 8:18).
The majority of my teaching time was devoted to students from Burma, China and Pakistan. I taught the book of Philippians, emphasizing the Providence of God in times of suffering. I stressed that the recurring theme in the word “rejoice” spoke of celebrating the victory of Jesus Christ in every condition of life. Paul wrote from prison, the Philippian believers were suffering from poverty and persecution. Yet together they were able to “rejoice”, knowing that out of their afflictions God would further His redemptive plans for others. In the course of our time together I mentioned that there may be great trials ahead for us all. But if we truly grasped the truth Paul was writing about, we could use it for the glory of Christ and the salvation of souls.
One week after leaving China the devastating Cyclone hit Burma, affecting every one of our students from that area. As we read of the devastation I commented to Nancy that these things seldom occur alone, and there would likely be another disaster following on its heels. One week later, China was rocked by a massive earthquake. This would no doubt also affect our Chinese students. Even at this date the full extent of damage in those areas is not known. But I am sure of one thing. In the midst of the carnage and affliction, there are believers with heavy hearts, who yet in spite of it all are rejoicing in the victory of their Lord and Savior, and who will turn tragedy into triumph by their faith.
All across the globe dauntless believers with nothing but their bare hands and courageous hearts are standing in the gap, bringing hope to the hopeless, lighting the darkness with the burning flame of the love of Christ. They put most of us to shame with the simplicity and power of their faith. Lacking all of our resources they have none of our hindrances as they wade without hesitation into the raging floods of grim violence, heartless cruelty, callous inhumanity, and fearful poverty. We have been honored to stand in the presence of men and women, some scarcely more than children, who laughingly risk everything for something they prize above anything – the joy of serving the King of kings. To me their greatness is magnified by their self-effacing humility, and their spontaneous hilarity. To sit and laugh with those who bear in their bodies the scars of their devotion is a foretaste of heaven. For one day the truths of the epistle to the Philippians will be proven eternally true, and many will say with the great Apostle that, “the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Phi 1:12). On that day we will see that those who are “poured out as a drink offering” (Phi 2:17) are those who gain insight into the mystery that, “to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phi 1:29). Will we be among them?
BE LOOKING FOR OUR MISSION REPORT WITH PICTURES IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS!