Monday, August 26, 2013

The Tragedy of Neglecting Generational Thinking

“Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.”
(2 Kings 23:25)

“Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.”
(2 Kings 23:31–32)

““My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,”
(John 17:20)

If we are serious about obeying Christ in His command to make disciples of all nations, it will never be enough just to have a ministry - even a significant ministry. Our good works will be of no lasting value unless it is a generational ministry. Josiah was a good king who took extraordinary measures to cleanse Judah and Israel of idolatry. Yet, as soon as he was gone and his son took over, people reverted to their pagan ways - to their eventual destruction.  Even for Jesus, cleansing the temple was not enough. Healing and preaching were not enough. Even His investment in His disciples was not enough. What was essential was a generational movement that stretched even to us today. We can see this in the generational nature of Jesus' prayer in John 17.

A key to generational ministry is imparting the legacy of the Gospel to laborers and leaders who will disciple the next generation with a vision for the one that comes after.  I must continue to prioritize investment in the next generation. One generation must commend the works of God to another. I also must pray into the generations that I can't personally touch. Just another practical lesson from the life and prayer of Jesus.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Promises, promises

“Lord, where is your unfailing love? You promised it to David with a faithful pledge.” (Psalms 89:49)

“They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”” (2 Peter 3:4)

When I first started following Christ, I read the stories about Dawson Trotman (founder of The Navigators) going to the hills of California early in the morning to pray and seek the Lord for his city, his nation, and the nations. He and his small group of prayer partners began to "claim promises". I believe that my life and ministry flow from those promises that God kept to Daws through the decades. Looking for promises from God became a part of my times in the word and fueled my own prayer life and it has to this day. My Bible and more importantly, my life is marked with those promises.

Yet there are many promises that I have not seen fulfilled. What does this mean? Did I really hear from God? Did the promises fail? I especially had doubts about promises God gave in leading us to move to Latvia  (one such promise is in the picture below). When we were forced to leave Latvia, I had very little evidence that these promises were being fulfilled. As the years went by, I lost contact with many of the people there. Then one day, I listened to a message from Mike Treneer (International President of The Navigators) in which he stated that God gives promises not because he will do something right away, but because he will do something after a period of time. He is after our heart. It was then that I realized that I don't claim promises, promises claim me.

God's promises do not fail, but human understanding of God’s timescale often does.The promises never fail, though seeming delay may cause us to l doubt. "“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
(2 Corinthians 1:20)

After Mike's message, I returned to my room, telling God (and Iris) that I was going to continue to believe God for Latvia whether I ever heard something from there or not. That very evening, I turned on my laptop to find a Facebook friend request from someone in Latvia. That has led to more requests and more connections. Today, the Navs again have a full time missionary in that country and several from our time there have reproduced to the third generation. God didn't have to show me this, but He did. God's promises are meant to get me through the tough times, when hope seems lost. At that time, I must grip His promises and let them grip me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What do you do with the year of Jubilee?

“But the field, when it is released in the jubilee, shall be a holy gift to the LORD, like a field that has been devoted. The priest shall be in possession of it.” (Leviticus 27:21 ESV)

““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”” (Luke 4:18–19 ESV)

When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 in the synagogue that day, He was proclaiming the year of jubilee. The year of jubilee would have been good news to the poor because they would have land returned to them that they had lost. It was a proclamation of liberty: “And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.” (Leviticus 25:10 ESV)

The year of the Lord's favor was the year of Jubilee. Kay Arthur says, "The Jubilee of Israel only lasted one year. After this, it was possible to begin to buy and sell property again. 'Buyer beware' had to be the motto of the day after the year of Jubilee was completed. If you were foolish enough to be taken the first time, you would probably be taken again. Then you would have to wait forty-nine more years for this celebration to come around again!"

But the Jubilee Jesus announced, "the acceptable year of the Lord," was different. Like the Jubilee of old, this event would be announced by the Day of Atonement, the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. But, unlike the Jubilee of the Old Testament, this celebration would be eternal. Because of our faith in the Lord Jesus and the new birth, the Church has entered into a perpetual Jubilee. The only way you can fail to claim your original blessings is to be ignorant of your rights, refuse to accept what is legally yours, or be talked out of them by Satan.

Are you living in Jubilee? Bob Goff, in his excellent book, Love Does says this: "Love doesn’t try to be efficient; when it’s most extravagant, it’s least wasted”. Let's at least be as extravagant  in our love as God was when he laid out the Year of Jubilee.