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“We will live, if you will die.”

From the Middle East Training Team Some of our team members visited Baghdad several months ago and met with a local pastor. They shared the vision of the training team and talked about partnership ideas. The pastor agreed that training is important, but he pressed us that it must go beyond strategy and technique. “I…

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READ: Malachi 4, Matthew 28, Mark 16, Acts 28, Revelation 22 BEGINNINGS The Alpha is the Omega. God does not change and He who ends things starts things, He who is the end is the beginning. God is humanity’s end. When we long for His salvation (Psalm 119:174), we are in reality longing for Himself….

READ: Zechariah 14, Acts 15, Revelation 21 MYTH BUSTER Currently there is an inordinate emphasis on size and speed when it comes to the development of the church. Church history soberly shows that orthodoxy tends not to spread as swiftly as heresy and that bad teaching outpaces good. It is the slow, steady repeated truth…

READ: Zechariah 13, Acts 14, Revelation 20 TO FLEE OR NOT TO FLEE God’s Word is both a comfort in affliction (Psalm 119:50) and a source of persecution. Revelation 20:4 tells of the souls who were “beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God.” The Word of God both gets us…

READ: Zechariah 12, Acts 12-13, Jude PIERCING WORDS God is continually pierced by the foolish things that come out of our mouths. Rather than grace and supplication (Zech. 12:10), we tend to speak the words of Herod–eloquent arrogance (Acts 12:23). We fall in love with the sound of our own voice and believe the flatterers who tell us…

READ: Zechariah 11, Acts 10-11, 3 John BEAUTY AND BONDS Generosity of heart is a prayer that God answers (Acts 10:2, 4). A gracious heart takes the greatest joy when others walk and grow in the truth (3 John 4). A stingy heart restricts the ministry of others and seeks to minimize their influence. Barnabas…

READ: Zechariah 10, Acts 7-9, 2 John LEAVING HOME We have made Christmas about coming home and being comfortable. Jesus’ approach to Christmas was to leave home and be uncomfortable. Christmas has become safe and cozy, a time to relax and give gifts to one another. The original Christmas involved God leaving the comfort of heaven to…

READ: Zechariah 9, Acts 5-6, 1 John 5 GOD WITH US There are certain things we know. We know these things because God came near and lived with us, because He lives in us by His Spirit, because His Word is our counselor (Psalm 119:24). John tells us that we know we have eternal life,…

READ: Zechariah 8, Acts 3-4, 1 John 4 TONGUES OF MEN AND ANGELS  The filling of the Spirit always affects the tongue. First Corinthians 13 does not urge us to silence but to speak from love. Love in fact compels us to speak of Jesus. The most common hate crime committed by Christians is to…

READ: Zechariah 7, Acts 1-2, 1 John 3 NOT FOR YOU TO KNOW Followers of Jesus love His promise of empowerment. Facing overwhelming odds with underwhelming strength, we cling to the lifeline of God’s promised power: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). We are well versed with the…

READ: Zechariah 6, John 21, 1 John 2 SIGNS AND WONDERS OF GOD In the mad rush of ministry that puts its hope in dramatic signs and wonders, we are in danger of missing the wonder of the great signs of God. There is no healing or miracle that can match the awesome and sequential…

READ: Zechariah 5, John 20, 1 John 1 GOD’S CURSE Either God is a liar or we are. John warns us that we can make God a liar by saying we have no sin (1 John 1:10). He points out that if we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie (v….

READ: Zechariah 4, John 19, 2 Peter 3 FINISHING WELL Finishing well requires the humility of small beginnings. Zechariah 4:10 reminds us not to despise the day of small things. When we reflect on a giant of the faith who passes to glory, we primarily tend to consider the accumulated achievements of his or her life. Great souls build…

READ: Zechariah 3, John 18, 2 Peter 2 JESUS HELP ME Spiritual maturity is counter to natural human maturity. To become an adult in human society means to be ever more dependent on yourself. To become an adult spiritually is to be ever more dependent on Jesus. Humans consider continual dependence on others to be…

READ: Zechariah 2, John 17, 2 Peter 1 SENT AFTER GLORY The word for glory in Hebrew is related to the word for “weight.” There is a weightiness to the presence of God. Zechariah notes an interesting prophetic utterance in that the Messiah declares: “He sent me after glory” (Zech. 2:8). In context, the Messiah is defending…

READ: Zechariah 1, John 16, 1 Peter 5 HELPING GOD ON HIS TERMS Jesus is so annoyingly persistent. The satisfactions of God are so much more exhaustive than ours; they cost us more to attain and they satisfy us more deeply once we find them, once they find us. We humans have a fairly low…

READ: Song of Solomon 8, John 15, 1 Peter 4 LOVE TO BE HATED We should love to be hated, but we should not seek to be hated. Being hated by the world brings us closer to Jesus. After all He reminds us that “if the world hates you, know that it hated me before it…

READ: Song of Solomon 7, John 14, 1 Peter 3 ON THE CONTRARY, BLESSING While a “nose like the tower of Lebanon” might have sounded attractive to the ancient Hebrews (Song. 7:4), holy women who trusted God adorned themselves a different way (1 Peter 3:5). Peter points out that incorruptible beauty is that of a gentle and…

READ: Song of Solomon 6, John 13, 1 Peter 2 TROUBLED IN SPIRIT The Word of God gives us incredible structural integrity. The Word is a lamp to our feet (Psalm 119:105), it is our revival (v. 107), it is our heritage (v. 111), and when we incline our heart toward it forever, to the…

READ: Song of Solomon 5, John 12, 1 Peter 1 SURPRISING TEACHERS Obeying Makes Us Wise. “I have understood more than the ancients,” says the psalmist, “because I keep your precepts” (Psalm 119:100). It is not study that makes us spiritually smart. Some of the most theologically brilliant people are the least submitted to Jesus and…

READ: Song of Solomon 4, John 11, James 5 PERSEVERANCE Missionaries who live and labor in the Arab world face an ongoing tension: We desperately want to see millions of Arab Muslims come to Jesus, and to be discipled and planted in churches that reproduce themselves, yet we see so very little. We read the…

READ: Song of Solomon 3, John 10, James 4 NECESSARY, NOT SUFFICIENT Christians tend to be wooed by the power gifts. In ministry and especially frontier mission, we are tempted to put our hopes in the silver bullet of signs and wonders. We think if God will but demonstrate His power, the nations will turn…

READ: Song of Solomon 2, John 9, James 3 JUDGE JESUS The advent season affords us the opportunity to look back at the incarnation and tremble. There is something horrible about God becoming man. The soft lights and gentle music of Christmas alternate with the jolly and festive side of the holidays and lead us…

READ: Song of Solomon 1, John 8, James 2 INTIMACY WITH THE KING For the most part we are satisfied with surface intimacies. Pure, deep, unadulterated intimacy is rare–even in Christian marriage. Song of Solomon unsettles us, for it unashamedly calls for the rawest intimacy with no less than God Himself. The poetic sexual imagery…

READ: Ecclesiastes 12, John 7, James 1 THE GLORY OF ONE It is all to easy to speak gospel truth for self-glorifying ends. Jesus warned, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but He who seeks the glory of the one who sent Him is true” (John 7:18). We are sent into the earth to speak…

READ: Ecclesiastes 11, John 6, Revelation 22 NO MORE CURSE Jesus is coming soon. If this was true 2,000 years ago (Rev. 22:12), it is more true now. The day that Jesus returns will live not in infamy, but in eternity–for from that day on there will be no more curse (v. 3). Oh, what…

READ: Ecclesiastes 10, John 5, Revelation 21 NO MORE DEATH A colleague was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya yesterday. This man moved with his family to exalt Jesus among precious Libyans and was murdered as he jogged yesterday morning. For him there is the glorious presence of Jesus; for his friends and family there…

READ: Ecclesiastes 9, John 4, Revelation 20 HARD WORK IN THE HARDEST PLACES “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:38, NASB) Wherever we go in ministry and mission, we either benefit from the labor of others or we contribute…

READ: Ecclesiastes 8, John 3, Revelation 19 INEVITABLE DEMISE Jesus is the only one who grows ever stronger; all the rest of us decline. The eternal life we will enjoy is granted to us from the majesty of the Godhead. We participate in it and it becomes fully ours by inheritance, but with no diminishing or…

READ: Ecclesiastes 7, John 2, Revelation 18 TONE DEAF Father Macarius was a church leader in the early days of Christianity in Egypt. A young believer approached him and asked him what it meant to live the crucified life, what it meant in effect to live dead. Macarius had him go to the grave of a…

READ: Ecclesiastes 6, John 1, Revelation 17 ENDING WELL: PENTECOSTAL DEATHS We love Spirit-fueled beginnings. We love when God by His power starts something new and fresh. We love Alpha. But we are not so sure what to do about Omega. Pentecostal Christians in particular seem to have a difficult time when the Spirit of…

READ: Ecclesiastes 5, Luke 24, Revelation 16 GOD’S FOOLS God does not suffer fools; He has no pleasure in them (Eccles. 5:4). An incomplete view of God casts Him as a benign and cuddly grandfather, somewhat clueless to our sin and comprehensively approving of our person and actions. God is approachable and should be, but…

READ: Ecclesiastes 4, Luke 23, Revelation 15  A YIELDED SPIRIT  Jesus continually does things that defy comfortable definition. His teaching does not soothe but stirs up the general population (Luke 23:5). His person separates and divides families, yet unites violent Pilate and wicked Herod (v. 12). The wonders of incarnate God lavished on a tiny…

READ: Ecclesiastes 3, Luke 22, Revelation 14 BEAUTIFUL, IN HIS TIME Revelation presents a beautiful picture of the effects of the everlasting gospel (Rev. 14: 6). When the gospel (the good news of what God has done in Christ) is accepted and embraced, it transforms man. The gospel-centered man or woman has the Father’s name…

READ: Ecclesiastes 2, Luke 21, Revelation 13 THE PATIENCE AND FAITH OF THE SAINTS Revelation wrecks havoc on any theology that has a high view of man. It is pretty clear that in the last days things will get pretty rough. In fact, “it was granted to him [the evil beast] to make war with…

READ: Ecclesiastes 1, Luke 20, Revelation 12 OVERCOMING The devil on earth is like a man-eating shark that has thrust itself onto a crowded beach. Ferocious, deadly, powerful, but limited: not omnipresent and running out of oxygen. A fish cannot live on land. Revelation 12:12 assures us that though the devil comes against us in great wrath,…

READ: Proverbs 31, Luke 19, Revelation 11 KINGDOM POW THEOLOGY Some followers of Jesus, a little too full of themselves, think that Jesus needs our help. Self-important Christians think that the role of the Body of Christ is to prevail in the earth and systems of men to present Jesus a redeemed earth as His…

READ: Proverbs 30, Luke 18, Revelation 10 LORD, HAVE MERCY Jesus loves it when we are persistent in prayer, when we keep coming back to Him over and over again in faith. Luke 18 tells us that if an unjust judge can be moved by the persistence of a supplicant, how much more shall the…

READ: Proverbs 29, Luke 17, Revelation 9 REWARDS When the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5), He responds in two unlikely ways. First, He compares faith to a mustard seed; second, He links faith to doing our duty (v. 10). In His answers Jesus reveals an understanding of faith that runs counter…

READ: Proverbs 28, Luke 16, Revelation 8 ABOMINABLE PRAYERS Jesus demands accountability for how we steward the resources He has given us. Jesus has given us family, friends, time, and money, and He insists that we use these resources well, that we are shrewd with what He has given us (Luke 16:8). Family and friends…

READ: Proverbs 27, Luke 15, Revelation 7 MENTORED REPENTANCE The prodigal son teaches us to never waste an opportunity to repent. When this wayward son returned to his father, he recognized his error was first against God: “Father, I have sinned against heaven” and then against his loved ones (Luke 15:18, 21). The prodigal son joins Joseph (“How…

READ: Proverbs 26, Luke 14, Revelation 6 NON-DISCIPLESHIP Dallas Willard commented that if you think the cost of discipleship is high, you ought to reckon with the cost of non-discipleship. Jesus was pretty explicit about what characterizes the non-disciple. By Jesus’ definition, discipleship is not for the faint of heart or lazy in spirit. Jesus…

READ: Proverbs 25, Luke 13, Revelation 5 THE SLAIN LAMB STANDS Faith never denies facts. John the revelator stands in heaven and is presented with a sealed scroll which contains the end game of God (Rev. 5). Within that scroll is the solution for a world gone mad, a world polluted and poisoned by sin…

READ: Proverbs 24, Luke 12, Revelation 4 THE GREAT DIVIDER The Prince of Peace proclaims: “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you not at all, but rather division” (Luke 12:51). Modern man distorts Jesus into what they want Him to be: the great uniter, the one who makes everyone happy…

READ: Proverbs 23, Luke 11, Revelation 3 ZEAL “My zeal has consumed me, because your enemies have forgotten your words.”  Psalm 119:139 Zeal is one of those qualities we regard with a little bit of scorn. It is the fanatic who is zealous, not the wise man, or so goes the conventional wisdom. Jesus’ life…

READ: Proverbs 22, Luke 10, Revelation 2 THE PRINCIPLE OF PROMISE Much hurt and harm occurs to the Christian spirit when we mistake the principles of God for His guaranteed promises. Principles balance combined truths. The promises of God have to be interpreted collectively, for an isolated promise that is claimed in ignorance or avoidance…

READ: Proverbs 21, Luke 9, Revelation 1 AWARE Jesus is continually perplexing people, particularly the ruling classes (Luke 9:7). The poor seem to have an easier time in understanding Jesus, probably because they have the humility to accept God’s self revelation, while the rich and self-reliant have the hubris to think they can describe God…

READ: Proverbs 20, Luke 8, Jude IN THE LIGHT Our bondages cease to awe us after a while and begin to comfort us. We prefer our pigs and are afraid to be free (Luke 8:26-39). When sin settles in it becomes bondage, and to the bound deliverance is more intimidating than slavery. Slavery is predictable…

READ: Proverbs 19, Luke 7, 3 John SUBMITTED FAITH  Jesus neither cries nor dances when we want Him to (Luke 7:32), for He is subject to neither our authority or our expectations. John the Baptist, who knew Jesus best, was still offended (or at least disappointed) in both what Jesus didn’t do and in how He…

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