Friday, January 21, 2011

Missionary Call of Israel in the Old Testament

courtesy of heartlight.org
In reading and doing my homework for the "Perspectives" class, I am learning that "missions" is not strictly from the New Testament, instead it began in the Old Testament (OT) where God called His people to be a light to the nations and an example of godliness to those who knew not the Lord of Creation.

Despite current beliefs that the command of "evangelism" (the Great Commission) was given only to readers of the New Testament, it is very clear in the text I am currently reading within my Perspectives Reader, titled "Israel's Missionary Call", that this belief is false. This text cites three basic scriptures from the OT as evidence that God's purpose for His chosen elect, the Israelites, from the bloodline and seed of Abraham, through whom God said He would bless "all peoples on earth" (Gen 12:1-3), was to do just that - bless all the peoples on earth through His Name!!

God's message to the Israelites is still His calling for us today:

To Proclaim His Plan to Bless the Nations
In Haran, God promised to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:3

To Participate in His Priesthood as Agents of that Blessing
On Mount Sinai, God called on Moses and said: "‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

To Prove His Purpose to Bless all the Nations
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us, Selah,
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth. Selah
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Although Israel did not and does not always step up to the plate of being a light to the nations, it does not change the fact that this was God's purpose for them - and still is! However in the meantime, until the time of the Rapture when all believers in Christ are taken from the earth, as descendants of Abraham through faith in the Promised Messiah, Jesus, we Gentiles must be co-workers with God in order to fulfill His promise and plan to bless all the nations through Abraham. The Lord our God is One, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the same yesterday as He is today as He will be in the future, and His will, promises and plans for His creation has not and will not change, whether we read about Him in the Old Testament or the New Testament.

courtesy of heartlight.org

courtesy of creative-spiritz.com
God bless you!
Jenn

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From God's Perspective

My husband and I are taking a 16-week Certificate Level course called "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement." This course is a discipleship course that really gets to the heart of God and opens our eyes to His redemptive plan and promises, from Genesis to Revelation and through the Church today. It shows us how to look at the world through God's eyes and teaches us about God's mission of saving and redeeming souls through regular, everyday people like you and I. In God's eyes there aren't any "nobodies" and when we make His vision our vision, and we make the purpose of our lives to become His "co-worker," then God can use you and I to enact His plan and to fulfill the promises He made through Abraham. The course is sectioned off into four "topics" and really digs deep into the heart of God's missions mandate by looking at it through a biblical, historical, cultural and strategic lens. {Check out the video below to learn more about the course, then visit their website to see if there are any courses going on in your area: www.perspectives.org}



I feel so touched by this course already and we've only attended one session so far!! The session we attended is titled, "The Living God is a Missionary God" and technically I should be doing my homework right now, but I figured why not turn it into a blog post!
"Our problem [is] a matter of shriveled vision. We cannot devote ourselves to that which we cannot envision. Our vision is limited by the horizon of our own concerns and culture. But, there is a better destiny - a larger purpose. We can lay hold of it by knowing and following God toward a vision which extends far beyond ourselves." p. 1, Perspectives Study Guide

God bless you!
♥ Jenn

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Lies Ahead: Hope for Those in Fear of the Future

In giving himself as an example for the church in ancient Philippi (Φίλιπποι), the apostle Paul wrote:
"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." (Philippians 3:10-16)
Everyone has fallen short of the glory of God (sinned) and everyone has done things that they are not proud of or they regret. I have so so many things, even things I still do every day that I am ashamed of and regret. But we are not the sum of all our past (or present) mistakes. When we have accepted the gift of Jesus's death and His blood has cleansed our lives, God does not look at us and see our sins - past, present or future. Instead, He sees His only Son, hanging on a cross and then risen glorified. Although the past did happen and we even make mistakes with each new day, we do not have to hold on to those mistakes and those regrets. We repent of them by bringing them to the foot of the cross and we lift them up to our Lord and Savior, who died for those very mistakes and regrets. We do not have to carry the heavy burden of yesterday, but instead we give our burden to Jesus so that we can feel the precious hope of a future in Him. He has plans for me and He has plans for YOU:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
We press on and we fight the good fight in hope and expectance of the good things our Lord has in store for us. What JOY we should have as we walk through our days! What PEACE should be upon us as we think about our future. True, we know not what our God has planned or when our life will end, but when we trust that it will all be according to His perfect and good will, our soul and our spirit should be relieved and burden-free. For if we believe that God is, and we believe that our Messiah Jesus died and rose again to save us of our sins, then it should be easy for us to believe that our future holds blessed gifts of God like joy, peace, wisdom, and all other fruits of the Holy Spirit. We just need to keep our eye on the Cross and on the Risen Lord. If it sounds hard and you feel bound to those past mistakes and you are fearful that you may repeat those same mistakes again in the future, please remember the word of our God:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Do not allow your past, or your fear of the future, keep you from "pressing on toward the prize"!

"Heavenward Toward Christ" created by me on www.Polyvore.com

This post has been my thoughts upon reading today's entry in the Upper Room Magazine that my friend recently got me as a gift.

God bless you!
♥ Jenn