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Category Archives: Scripture

Moscow Conference – Trip Report

Here are the PowerPoint slides I used this morning when I shared with the congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, about what God did during our recent ministry to pastors in Moscow.

 

Russia 2019 – Moscow Conference – October Update

Pray for Pastor Mark & Carol Wheeler serving in Russia

From October 16-26, Pastor Mark & Carol will be serving in Moscow, Russia. Mark & Carol have served in Russia on numerous occasions with John & Naomi Musgrave, missionaries who lead a ministry called “Mentoring Matters.” This ministry follows the example of the apostle Paul in Acts 13-14, helping to strengthen and establish churches by training leaders.

Mark will be teaching a week-long seminar for pastors on the topic of, “How do we identify and train the next generation of leaders in the church?”

Thanks to your prayers and generous gifts, the trip is fully funded. Following the conference, Mark & Carol will be stopping in the U.K. for a week of vacation, which they are paying for out of their own funds.

Here’s the schedule for the trip:

October 16-18       Travel (Boston – Amsterdam – Moscow)

October 19-21       Recover from jet lag; prep for conference

October 22-26       Conference (7 Sessions – 1: The biblical mandate for mentoring; 2: Case studies—biblical examples; 3: What do you look for in a trainee? 4: What do you try to develop? 5: How do you train them? 6: Failures—not everyone you invest in will turn out well; 7: Q&A)

October 27            Travel (Moscow – London)

October 28-November 3         Visiting London, Oxford, Edinburgh

November 4          Travel (London – Boston)

Please pray for safe travel, good health, effective communication, and mutual encouragement with the participants.

Internet permitting, Mark will try to provide periodic updates and post them on his blog

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Ministry, Missions, Russia, Scripture

 

Mission: Possible

While we might grudgingly admit that Scripture calls us to live by faith (Hebrews 10:37-39), we secretly believe that it is an impossible task. We feel that it is only something that supersaints can achieve. But normal people have no chance at reaching to that lofty standard.

To challenge that assumption, the author of Hebrews 11 gives numerous examples of ordinary people who took God at his word. Abel went out of his way to please God and worship him extravagantly. Enoch walked with God in the midst of a corrupt society. Noah trusted God for the unknown. Abraham and Sarah left their comfort zone and followed God’s call. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph left a legacy of faith to their descendants. Moses left the comfort and pleasures of Egypt to endure hardship with God’s people.

In Hebrews 11:30-31, the author encourages his readers to learn from the example of Joshua and Rahab. Their faith demonstrates that when we face an impossible situation, we must believe that God will make us successful by trusting his plan and obeying his instructions.

God may give us an impossible task. From a human standpoint, Jericho was an impossible city to conquer. The city of Jericho covered about eight acres. It was strategically located in the center of Canaan and controlled the path into the hill country. It had a double set of walls and the gates were locked up tight. The first obstacle to overcome was not the Jordan River or the city of Jericho. The first obstacle to overcome was unbelief.

Believe that God will make you successful (Joshua 6:1-5). God had already prepared the way for Israel to be successful. The people of Jericho were scared (1). God promised the victory (2). God gave clear, direct instructions how to proceed (3-5). If God has called us to do something, then success is guaranteed. We need to understand that we fight from victory, not just for victory. While the battle plan was not physically taxing, it did require no small amount of courage and faith.

Recognize that success comes by trusting God’s plan (Joshua 6:6-16, 20). Scripture is very clear that faith precedes victory and belief precedes blessing. We must take God at his word and believe his promises if we want to achieve victory and enjoy his blessings. Because Israel stepped out in faith and trusted God’s plan, the walls of Jericho fell by faith (Hebrews 11:30).

Success comes by obeying God’s instructions (Joshua 6:17-19, 21-27). God gave four specific instructions. (1) Devote the entire city to God (17-18). (2) Rescue Rahab and her family (22-25). Joshua 2 explains that Rahab was an unlikely person to put faith in the true God, yet she did, and was saved by faith. She demonstrated her faith by her works of welcoming the spies (Hebrews 11:31). (3) Destroy every living thing (21). (4) Burn the city (24).

It is these last two commands that give us the most heartburn. The best explanation is to compare it to a surgeon removing a cancerous tumor from a person’s abdomen. God was removing evil from the land. Please understand that God had been patient from the time of Abraham (Genesis 15:16). He waited some 600 years before bringing judgment on the land.

Maybe God has not tasked you with conquering a city. Maybe your impossible task is living as a single parent. Perhaps your challenge is being a witness in the public schools. Maybe you are trying to live with integrity in a world that prizes deception. Perhaps your task is to conquer an addiction.

If God gives you a seemingly impossible task, trust his plan and obey his instructions. He will make your successful.

This is the synopsis of a message preached on October 13, 2019, at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. It is part of a series of expository sermons from the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Mission: Possible – Introduction

Sometimes, God calls us to seemingly impossible situations and tasks. We need to learn that we will be successful if we trust his promises and follow his instructions. Here is the introduction to the sermon I will be preaching this Sunday at First Central Bible Church. The message examines the faith of Joshua and Rahab in Hebrews 11:30-31.

 

Why attend church?

“Why should I attend church?” This question came up at a recent pastor’s gathering. We discussed how we would answer someone if they posed the question. Here’s a few of the reasons we came up with:

  • The church is God’s instrument to reach the world.
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 commands us not to neglect meeting together.
  • The “one another” commands of the New Testament are hard to practice if you are by yourself.
  • As members of the Body of Christ, we have a mutual responsibility to one another.
  • Christianity is meant to be lived corporately, not just individually.

In addition, this article by Peter Adam gives “11 Reasons Why You Need to Belong to a Church.”

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Church, Scripture

 

Choices & Challenges

Life is filled with many choices. Some are very easy. Coffee or tea? Soup or salad? AM or FM? Some are more challenging. Do you act now or wait? Do you make a commitment or keep your options open? Some choices are life altering. College? Career? Marriage? Family? Some choices are faith stretching. Do you stand for Christ or go with the world? Do you put God first or put your work and family first?

For every choice and challenge, we have to decide if we will walk by sight or walk by faith. We have to decide if we will follow Christ or trust ourselves.

If we read the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, we quickly learn that Moses was a tremendous leader. However, as significant of a leader as Moses was, there are no tombs in Egypt where he is buried. There are no monuments erected to honor him. This is in large part because of the choices Moses made during his lifetime.

Hebrews 11:23-29 explains that Moses and his parents faced four significant crossroads of faith. They faced four major choices that altered the direction of their lives. Would his parents follow the world? Would he accept the sinful? Would he choose a comfortable life? Would he settle for status quo? Because of their choices, Moses had a tremendous impact and left a significant legacy.

By faith, Moses’ parents resisted the pressure of the world (23). Every parent thinks their child is the most beautiful, gifted child in the world. Moses’ parents were no exception. They thought God had great plans in store for their son. Because of that, they stood against the edict of Pharaoh and refused to put Moses to death. In doing so, they provided Moses with an example to follow.

By faith, Moses refused the sinful (24-26). We are told that when Moses was 40 years old, he refused … choosing … considered. If you take those statements in reverse order, you notice that Moses considered the alternatives—Egyptian family or Israelite family; pleasure or mistreatment; treasure or reward; short-term gain or long-lasting benefits; pursue sin or follow Christ. Moses made a deliberate choice to identify with God and his plans and then walked away from the sinful pleasures of Egypt.

By faith, Moses left the familiar (27). After his encounter with God in the burning bush, Moses was tasked with leading Israel out of Egypt and back to the Promised Land. His faith helped him see reality. Pharaoh may be the most powerful man on earth, but Yahweh was the most powerful being in the universe. Pharaoh might make his life miserable now, but God offered rewards in eternity. Pharaoh might think he is in charge, but God is ultimately in control. Recognizing the truth helped Moses leave behind a comfortable lifestyle and instead endure a difficult challenge which God called him to.

By faith, Moses did the unusual (28). If your neighbors painted their house bright pink, you might chalk it up to being eccentric. But what if they painted their home with blood? That’s what Israel was asked to do in the Passover, put the blood of the lamb on the doorpost and lintel of the house. Moses and Israel took a step of faith and trusted God’s plan, and that action spared them from death on that fateful night.

By faith, Moses inspired a nation (29). Moses’ choices to follow God set the example for the nation of Israel. They followed him through the Red Sea and on to the border of the Promised Land.

What choices are you facing today? Will you walk by sight or by faith? Whom will you choose to follow? What impact might you have on those around you? Make the choice to follow Christ.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 6, 2019. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Take Charge of your Death

What do you want written on your epitaph? How do you want to be remembered?

Hebrews 10:37-39 tells us that we need to live by faith. In chapter 11, the author of the book gives numerous examples of ordinary men and women who took God at his word and acted accordingly. In Hebrews 11:17-22, we discover that not only do we need to live by faith, we also need to die by faith. We need to understand that the legacy we leave is more important than the heritage we received. Through the example of the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph—we discover how to finish well and leave a legacy of faith.

Model faith to your children (17-19). Abraham obeyed God’s command to give his son, Isaac, back to God. God had promised to bless the world through Abraham and give him as many descendants as there were stars in the sky. While Abraham might not have fully comprehended God’s instruction to sacrifice Isaac, he trusted God to keep his promise even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead. Abraham trusted the promises and the power of God. Imagine the impact that had on Isaac on the return journey.

Look to the future with confidence (20). Isaac rode a roller coaster of faith throughout his lifetime—one minute trusting God and the next minute trying to do things his own way. God answered his prayers for children (Genesis 25:21). God promised that “the older will serve the younger (25:23). In the midst of a famine, God confirmed his promise about his descendants (26:3-4). Isaac then lied about his wife (26:7) and followed it up by building an altar (26:25). Isaac then ignored God’s instructions and set about to bless the son he favored, Esau (27:1-4). He was first deceived into blessing Jacob (27:5-9) but then later chose to bless Jacob (28:1-4). Isaac pictured a hopeful future for his son, Jacob, in his blessing.

Bless your descendants with intentionality (21). It took Jacob a lifetime of divine discipline to learn obedience. Jacob went from praising God (Genesis 28:16-17) to bargaining with God (28:20-21) to acknowledging God’s blessing (31:5) to wrestling with God (32:24-26). At the end of his life, he resisted the temptation to be “fair” and passed on a unique blessing to Joseph’s sons.

Anchor your life on the promises of God (22). As Joseph’s death drew near, he used the event as a teachable moment. He reminded his family of the promises given to Abraham that Israel would be strangers and slaves in Egypt for 400 years but afterward, God would bring them back to the Promised Land. Joseph made them promise not to leave his bones behind in Egypt when they left and returned to the land of their ancestors. Joseph was confident that nothing could annul God’s promises.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave your children? How can you model your faith to them? Do they know what you believe and why you believe it? Do you have a confident hope about the future? How can you be intentional in the way you treat and bless your children and grandchildren? Is your life and faith anchored on God’s promises?

What changes do you need to make today to make sure you leave a godly legacy? Remember that the legacy you leave is more important than the heritage you received.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on September 29, 2019. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.