The Word of God says in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”.
I travelled to the North of India for 10 days to attend and to experience what missions is like in that region. I had accompanied the pastor of my Church, a very passionate, mature and a very wise man with years of experience in the missions field under his belt. My travel began from the middle-east to one of the most religiously sensitive places in India. With a solid strategy and a full year of preparation, our team’s core mission was to train local missionaries and pastors from within the region, teaching them to build, grow and multiply Churches in the areas assigned to them. The vision is great and so is the task. I have never witnessed anything of this scale. As much as I am eager to share, I cannot go into the specifics. I have to be wise enough to know what to share and what not to.
The 10 days I spent in this remote area was truly an eye-opener. Like I said, we had a clear mission and that was to raise and train pastors. So I spent my time with pastors from the area and learning about how they lived, about their families and about their ministry. Most of them do not have the experience of being raised by a Christian family and they were very eager to learn from us. My pastor taught them almost everything, right from the basics of the Gospel to living a holy life, from starting a Church to growing and raising leaders in order to multiply Churches and even how to raise money by faith. The training went on for hours every day with a few breaks for lunch, tea and snacks. I was never tired.
My take away from the trip were many. I saw the massiveness of the tasks ahead and the seriousness by which we need to work to accomplish them. This must be a team effort and it requires thousands of pastors working togther towards one goal. It is best to train and equip indigenous people into missions because they know their territory very well. They can accomplish the tasks better and in a shorter period of time. The challenge is to train them. They do not have a long Christian background and a lot of their culture and beliefs have been moulded by the local culture and religion of that area. So they read and understand the Bible differently. Their language and behaviour may not be refined. What they have that we look for is a passion to serve God.
The whole 10-day project was a success. Lives were touched and the leaders were trained well and sent. But we barely scratched the surface. It will take us a few years to reach our goal. From here I travelled towards the South of India, to Kerala where my parents and sister’s family lives. I spent some time with them, attended a wedding ceremony and travelled back to the middle-east to my wife and son. It was good to be back home but I left the trip with a huge burden in my heart. An unsettling feeling to be part of God’s plan to save the world.
Acts 3:1-10 Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,[a] get up and[b] walk! Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!
In story of the lame beggar, we see the two kinds of lives. One is that of the lame beggar. A life of no hope, no healing, being carried daily to the temple by some friends, settling for a few coins to feed him for the day. He has been living like that since birth. The second one is that of Peter and John. A life led by the Spirit and full of hope. They did not live for money but lived by faith in the name of Jesus. These two lives clashed at the gate of the temple called Beautiful. The lame beggar asked for money but the apostles gave them more than that. Peter later spoke and said that it was by faith in Jesus’ name that the man was healed.
How do you live your life? Are you spiritually lame, driven by the world to the house of God but not receiving what you really need but expecting God to only provide finance to help you through the day? Or are you led by the spirit into a faith-filled miraculous life? Here’s what will change your life. Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were baptized by the Spirit as was promised and then they will be his witnesses around the world. Holy Spirit baptism can turn your life around just as he did for the apostles.
Following God’s instructions by faith
Luke 22:7-13 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
Jesus asked the disciples to prepare the Passover meal. He did not tell them, where and how to do it. So they asked him and he gave them the instructions. If we were to get these instructions, it would still be vague for us to follow them but that’s how God works. He gives us the immediate plan and still leaves in enough room for us to exercise our faith in him. The disciple went ahead and did according to the instructions and they prepared the Passover meal just as Jesus wanted.
Enduring hardship with gladness
Luke 22:14-20 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
We read here that Jesus although he was the one who arranged for the Passover meal, he did not participate in the meal rather he led them into it. He desired to eat with his disciples but he waited till after his suffering on the cross. Why did he do that? This is what I think. When a man is sentenced to death, the modern justice system allows the man to have his last meal, one that he desires to enjoy before everything ends for him. In the case of our Lord, the death he was to endure was not the end but the beginning. The bible says that he endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. It wasn’t the meal that brought him happiness, it was our salvation that kept him going. He now wishes to dine with us as we celebrate his victory on the cross. Don’t we serve an awesome God?
From the beginning of Gospel of Mark, people around Jesus were in awe of his preaching. They realized that Jesus was different from the others because he spoke with authority (Mark 1:22). John the Baptist introduces the Savior as the one who is mightier than him (Mark 1:7). Yet there were those who questioned his authority and saw him as an ordinary teacher like John the Baptist and the Pharisees. So they asked Jesus the below questions from Mark 2:18,19.
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
I believe Jesus knew their hearts and answered them that he is not to be compared to the others. He is God himself who has come like a bridegroom. He had pictured himself as the husband of his people Israel (Isaiah 62:4; Jeremiah 2:2; 3:20; Ezekiel 16:8; Hosea 2:19) and now the word of God has become flesh so that he can be with his people. Fasting was a time when the children of God mourned and prayed for a God encounter. Since Jesus is now with them, their mourning has turned to dancing. The Lord compares this situation to stitching a new garment into an old garment and storing new wine in an old wine skin. They are both very different and are not to be mixed.