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Galatians (1 of 13) The Gospel Of The Grace Of Christ

1:1-9 The Gospel Of The Grace Of Christ

Memory Verse: Galatians 1:6-8

1:1-5 Paul Introduces Himself And Greets The Churches

  • 1:1a The book of Galatians opens up with the first word being the name of its author: Paul. Then immediately it gives his position: apostle. The word “apostle” means “messenger.” It refers to the twelve men whom Jesus chose to fulfill this special position which would help lay the foundation of the church. Paul at a different time than the original twelve was also chosen by Jesus Himself to be an apostle. This means, that as an apostle he had a unique position of authority to teach and edify the churches—they could write scripture.
    Acts 9:1-19
  • 1:1b Paul was not among the original twelve, so he felt a need to defend himself and his position as an apostle. Judas, who was one of the original twelve, forsook Jesus, because he was a false believer. This left the position of the twelfth apostle to be fulfilled. The other apostles decided they would choose another apostle. The requirement was the man would have had to been with them from the baptism of John until the day of Jesus’ accession. They picked two men who met the requirements and prayed asking God for wisdom and cast lots which fell on Matthias and he was chosen as the twelfth apostle. Paul makes it clear that him becoming an apostle was “not of men, neither by man” like Matthias was, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (who raised Jesus from the dead). He is making it clear that his position and authority is equal to that of the original apostles.
    Acts 1:16-26
  • 1:2a Paul includes those traveling with him (all the brethren which are with me), showing they are also in agreeance with what Paul is going to write.
  • 1:2b The audience of the book of Galatians is the churches of Galatia. The province of Galatia was a region of central Asia minor. This letter then was written to the local churches located in that region. It is assumed then that this letter would circulate among the churches there to address the problems address in this book.
  • 1:3-5 Paul greets (grace be to you and peace) the churches with the gospel of grace. This type of greeting shows us four things: (1) The uniqueness of the true gospel—it only comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2) The message of the gospel—Jesus gave himself for (in our place) our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world. We need to realize that we are in a helpless condition because of our sin and we need to be rescued. Only Jesus can rescue us. (3) The motivation of the gospel—it is all according to the will of God. He decided to love us and send Jesus to rescue us, not because we deserved it but because of grace. Thus He is worthy of glory for ever and ever. (4) Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ—the bases of their relationship is rooted in the same God and the same gospel. The gospel is the foundation of fellowship. Paul wishes nothing more than they understand and continue in the grace and peace offered through the gospel.

1:6-7 Paul Introduces The Main Problem

  • 1:6a Paul marveled that the Galatian believers were so soon removed from the true gospel. He even says that they have deserted God who called them into the grace of Christ. Thus Paul here is clarifying what the true gospel is: God calling a person to the grace of Christ. The grace that Jesus offers is the payment for our sins by his death on the cross and power to be declared righteous through His resurrection. It is “by grace” because He is offering us something that we don’t deserve. We have no merit to offer God for our salvation, but Jesus will give us His merit if we accept it through faith. Thus the true Gospel is by grace through faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
  • 1:6b-7a The Galatian believers turned to another gospel. But there is no other gospel. Any change to the true gospel, whether you add too it or take away from it, will change it into a false message that can only condemn. Accepting this as the only gospel may be extremely hard. It might sound prideful. But the reason this is the only true gospel is because it is the only gospel by grace offered to man by God himself. All other “gospels” are “gospels of works”—meaning they teach the way to become righteous includes works. This gospel of Jesus is truly unique—meaning it teaches the way to become righteous is through faith alone (excluding works). Understanding the uniqueness of the gospel motives us in all we do: (1) our individual salvation depends on it; (2) the salvation of others depend on it because we will be proclaiming it; (3) we can’t live for our selves but live for the glory of God for this great gift of salvation He has given to us.
  • 1:7b The reason the Galatian believers turned away from the true gospel was because there were some people who had entered the church and started giving them trouble. They wanted to confuse them. Their teaching perverted or reversed the gospel of Christ. Instead of teaching the true gospel which says, “Not by works of righteousness, but by faith alone in Jesus for salvation,” they wrongly declared, “not by faith in Jesus alone, but also by works of righteousness for salvation.” They taught the believers to put their confidence in their own works instead of the works of Jesus.
    Titus 3:4-7

1:8-9 Paul Introduces The Punishment Of False Teachers

  • 1:8a-9a Paul warns Galatian believers against false teachers who preach a false gospel. Paul even says that it doesn’t matter what authority a person claims or who the person is (including him, the other apostles, an angel and every else in-between) if they change the gospel of grace as deliver by Paul and the Apostles then they should be accursed. Paul makes the statement so strong that if he ever changed his mind he would be a heretic.
  • 1:8b-9b Thus Paul is making the highest standard or the basis for understanding what truth is and for evaluating who is a real teacher from God—all based on the truth of the gospel as it was originally delivered (that which we have preached unto you / that ye have received). This true gospel is that standard that declares if a person is a true or false believer, a true or false preacher, a true or false church. The apostles don’t verify the gospel, but the gospel verifies them. Today, the standard is the same.
  • 1:8c-9c Finally, the punishment that Paul say for those who preach a false gospel is “to be accursed” which literally means “let him go to hell.” They preach a message of condemnation, thus they themselves will be condemned.

Review Questions

  • Who is the author of Galatians?
  • How does the author greet the churches?
  • What is the main problem the author introduces?
  • What does the author warn against?
  • What is the punishment for false teachers?
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Marriage (11 of 11) How Do I Make My Marriage Work?

How Do I Make My Marriage Work?

Marriage works when both spouses work hard at it. Marriage doesn’t work when both spouses refuse to work hard at it. Marriage is difficult when only one spouse works hard at it and the other doesn’t. Not matter where your marriage is, if you want an honorable, harmonious, healthy and happy marriage then the two people in the marriage have to work hard to make it that way. You can’t control your spouse, but you can do your part in making the marriage what it should be and glorify God in the process.

The Work Of A Believing Husband

  • A Christian husband leads his wife. Even if your wife isn’t a believer or isn’t fulfilling her role as a wife according to the Bible, you are still just as responsible to lead her because you are “heirs together of the grace of life”. The “grace of life” is referring to your marriage—which is meant to be a good thing that God gave us in this life. You are “heirs together” meaning that you are in this marriage together and should be equal partakers of its’ blessings. You are to treat your wife with equal importance and standing within the marriage. Your roles will be different but neither spouse is superior to the other.
    1 Peter 3:7; Ecclesiastes 9:9
  • A Christian husband should live together with his wife “according to knowledge.” This has two possible meanings: (1) You need to know what the Bibles teaches about your role as a husband and live in accordance to it. (2) You are to perceive, discover and learn about your wife so that you can live harmoniously together. This means that you are to be active in detecting and responding to your wife’s feelings, needs, wants and fears.
  • A Christian husband should “give honour” unto the wife as the weaker vessel. The Bible’s use of the word “weaker vessel” is not derogatory as in “less valuable,” but it points to two possibilities: (1) Generally, women were created physically weaker than men. (2) Culturally, men often dominate and exploit women so wives are often more vulnerable. Therefore, a Christian husband is called to highly esteem and love his wife—to use his strength to provide protection, comfort, care and provision for her. He doesn’t become bitter or have the habit of being angrily resentful against her. He doesn’t abuse his wife orally (harsh words, threats, unkindness) or physically (harsh behavior, violence, intimidation), but has a high view of her worth and value and treats her with such.
    Colossians 3:19
  • A Christian husband who doesn’t lead his wife in these ways takes the chance of his prayers being hindered. (1) Individually—his prayers maybe be hindered because of the wickedness in his heart, the Lord may refuse to hear him. (2) Collectively—it is assumed that husbands and wives pray together, therefore a husband who doesn’t lead his wife in this manner is also hindering the time they should be spending together in prayer (you can’t pray together when you are mad or arguing, etc.). (3) Testimonial—if a husbands wife isn’t a believer, but he is praying that she will become one, then his wrong actions are working against his prayers for her to become a believer because his actions don’t match his prayers (a hypocritical testimony).
    Psalm 66:18

The Work Of A Believing Wife

  • A Christian wife submits to her husband. Even if your husband isn’t a believer or isn’t fulfilling his role as a husband according to the Bible, you are still just as responsible to submit to him because there is a chance he will be converted by your conduct (even more than your words). Not only does the right actions serve to win over an unbelieving spouse but it can serve to cause a husband who is living out of God’s will to repent.
    1 Peter 3:1-6; Colossians 3:18
  • A Christian wife’s conduct is to be characterized by: (1) “Chaste”—which means pure, moral and virtuous. Her conduct shouldn’t be characterized with quarreling or sinful activities. (2) “Fear” or respect—which means that she should have an obvious admiration for God and allow it to overflow to also respecting her husband.
  • A Christian wife should focus on inner beauty more than outer beauty because this is what is valuable to God. Outer beauty (braiding your hair, wearing jewelry or nice clothes) is not wrong, but it pales in comparison to the inner beauty of the “hidden man of the heart” or your character because it is incorruptible. This character is to be characterized by a “meek and quiet spirit”. Meek means to be gentle and humble. Quiet means tranquil or untroubled. This type of spirit is means a wife is self-controlled, and submissive in her attitude and actions towards her husband.
  • A Christian wife express her trust in God by submitting to her husband. Holy Women in the Old Testament modeled what this type of wife should be. One example is Sarah, who showed her submission by habitually obeying and respecting her husband. Spiritually, you are Sarah’s daughters if: (1) you do well—you live out your faith in God by properly treating your husband; (2) if you are not afraid with any amazement (terror)—you live out this principle by faith and without fear of harm or mistreatment by your husband, even if he isn’t a believer. If you live with a fearful spirit about submitting to your husband then you will be anxious, apprehensive, judgmental—the opposite of a meek and quiet spirit. (This submission doesn’t include anything contrary to God’s will or word, such as sin, physical harm, etc.)

Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense

  • Proverbial Wisdom for Husbands: It wasn’t good for man to be alone, so God made him a wife. When a man finds a wife he finds a good thing, and obtains someone who can make him happy. He should recognize the value of his wife, praise her and only look to her for sexual fulfillment and satisfaction.
    Proverbs 5:15-19; 6:28; 18:22; 31:28-29
  • Proverbial Wisdom for Wives: Wives have a choice to make about what kind of wife they want to be, virtuous or shameful, and it will affect their husbands greatly. A virtuous wife has good character, is trustworthy, faithful, prudent, good and becomes her husbands crown—meaning he is proud to publicly honor her because she is part of his success and good reputation. She is a special blessing from God. But a wife that brings shame is a great burden to her husband and her constant quarreling causes increasing damage. She is like a rottenness in the bones of her husband—meaning she causes him pain, irritation and devastation.
    Proverbs 12:4; 19:13-14; 31:11–12, 23
  • What about when marriage doesn’t work? If divorce seems unavoidable, first make a renewed biblical commitment to work as hard as you can to save your marriage and do everything possible to avoid it no matter the eventual outcome.

Review Questions

  • Marriage works when both spouses do what?
  • How does a Christian husband lead his wife?
  • How does a Christian wife submit to her husband?
  • What is the proverbial wisdom for husbands?
  • What is the proverbial wisdom for wives?
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Marriage (10 of 11) How Do I Extend Grace To My Spouse?

How Do I Extend Grace To My Spouse?

Marriage teaches you how to extend grace to sinners—especially your spouse. Each spouse will experience his/her own share of disappointments, defeats and deficiencies from his/her spouse. It is through these experiences that you will be challenged to be a minster of grace—showing favor to your spouse in spite of his/her problems in the same way God extended grace to you through Jesus.

All Of Grace—Experience Grace, Extend Grace

  • Grace is unmerited by the receiver. Mankind was unsuccessful in living up to God’s standard of perfection. We sinned against Him and deserved death and eternal separation from Him. We absolutely failed Him. But God loved us. He didn’t want us to be eternally separated from Him. Therefore, He chose to make a way to save us. We did nothing to merit His love for us, but He choose to show grace—His free and unmerited favor. In marriage, there will be times when your spouse doesn’t live up to your “standard” for him/her and might not deserve you being good to him/her, but like God you should choose to extend grace—showing favor to him/her in spite of his/her failures.
    Ephesians 2:5-8; Romans 3:10-12
  • Grace is costly for the giver. Not only did we not deserve God’s goodness but we were unable to pay for the wrong we did. For God to make a way to save us by grace meant that He would take the responsibility of paying our debt. His Son, Jesus, would have to die in our place to make a way for our sins to be forgiven. Grace is like a gift. God is the Giver. He willingly bears the expense of saving us by sacrificing His Son. By the grace of God Jesus tasted death for every man. He gave up everything so that we “through His poverty might be rich”. We had no worth or value for God to accept us, but Him choosing to accept us by grace gave us the value and worth that we lacked. In marriage, when your spouse is unable or unwilling to make their wrongs right, you should choose to extend grace to him/her and it might be “costly” because you will have to bear the expense of it.
    Hebrews 2:9; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Ephesians 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:9-10
  • Grace is free for the receiver. Just like a gift is received at no cost, salvation is received at no cost. Salvation is not earned. God offers salvation through grace, thus it can only be accepted by faith—meaning we choose to trust in Jesus’ works and not in our own works. By the grace of God we are saved. In marriage, you extend grace to your spouse without expecting anything in return—you aren’t keeping a record of the good things you have done for your spouse and expecting him/her to pay you back.
    Romans 4:16; 11:6

Principles From Biblical Grace

  • Extending grace to your spouse starts with growing in your relationship with Jesus. Grace is part of Jesus’ character. He is gracious. He lived a life that exemplified what it means to willingly show favor toward the unworthy and undeserving without forcing anything to be owed in return for it. As believers, we are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus. This not only prevents believers from being led astray by false teaching, but it deepens our understanding about how to properly live out our faith. Also, the evidence of God’s grace in our lives and the lives of others should cause us to give thanks unto God. Therefore, in marriage you should extend grace by first cultivating your relationship with Jesus, so that you know how to extend grace like Jesus did.
    2 Peter 1:2, 3:18; 1 Corinthians 1:3-8; 15:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Timothy 2:1
  • Extending grace to your spouse means using the right speech to minister to him/her. As believers, we are to stop sinning and start doing good works as we become more like Jesus. This includes the way that we communicate. We no longer allow “corrupt communication” to come out of our mouths. This kind of talk is offensive, useless and damaging.  We are to intentionally refuse to respond with corrupt communicate. Instead, we are to have “good communication”. This kind of talk is respectful, useful and constructive. It means that you are trying to edify others and minister grace to or benefit the hearer even if he/she doesn’t deserve it. This not only includes “what” we say but also “how” we say it. Therefore, in marriage you should extend grace by communicating with your spouse in a gracious manner even if he/she responds with corrupt communication. You are to be gracious in what and how you say everything.
    Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; Luke 4:22
  • Extending grace to your spouse means doing more good things for your spouse than he/she deserves and greater than he/she imagines. As believers, we are on the receiving end of many incredible blessing from God. By grace God showed kindness toward us by sacrificing His Son for us; He has loved, forgave, justified and accepted us; He has given us everlasting consolation, good hope and will give us help in the time of need; He has given us eternal life. Therefore, in marriage you should extend grace by treating your spouse so good that it goes above and beyond all that he/she deserves or imagines.
    Ephesians 1:6-7; 2:7; Hebrews 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7

Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense

  • Absolute differences are predetermined characteristics before a person is born and can’t be changed. This includes: gender, time period of birth, body structure, skin color, nationality at birth, certain abilities or talents, parents or relatives and birth order. Your spouse was fearfully and wonderfully made by God, so you should graciously accepting your spouse and his/her “unchangeable characteristics” as God’s creation.
    Psalm 139:13-18
  • Relative differences are a result of a person’s upbringing, culture, relationships or other external factors. These include: personalities, tastes, viewpoints, instincts, ideas and opinions. These aren’t always “right and wrong” differences, but they cause many problems in marriage because it means you have to prefer your spouse over yourself—which is hard to do unless you extend grace. Your spouse doesn’t have to be the same as you, but you should graciously appreciate his/her differences.
  • Moral differences are a result of a person’s relationship with God and understanding of the Bible. This includes: salvation, struggle with sin and spiritual maturity. Your spouse will have many spiritual disappointments, defeats and deficiencies, but you need to remember that all of the goodness in you is only because of God’s grace. He is working all things together for your good and the good of your spouse if you love Him. Therefore, you should graciously build up your spouse and not pridefully tear him/her down.
    1 Corinthians 15:10; Romans 8:28-29

Review Questions

  • What does “grace is unmerited” mean?
  • Grace is costly for who?
  • Grace is free for who?
  • What are three ways we can extend grace?
  • What are three types of differences in marriage?
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August 2016 Prayer Letter

The weather is beautiful today as I write this letter. We are in the middle of “summer break” which only last about six weeks in China. Another month has gone by and God continues to bless the ministry here. Praise His holy name!

Salvation: Last month we reported about how our daughter came to faith in Jesus. The Lord has used her testimony to challenge others in the church about their own situations. The following Sunday the wife of the couple of whom I have done weekly marriage counseling with also came to faith in Jesus. Praise the Lord! We have mentioned them in earlier prayer letters and the Tuesday before she trusted in Jesus we were able to answer many question. You could see she was under conviction. Finally, the following Sunday during one of the services, she trusted in Jesus. Her husband and the church are filled with joy. Thank you for your prayers and praying for them. Please continue to pray, there are more just like her who have attended the church and are hearing the gospel each week but have yet make a decision to put their faith in Jesus.

Planning: We are planning a baptism service in two weeks. We have a handful or so that are planning on getting baptized. We will baptize publicly in the ocean, Lord willing. Also, we are working on our calendar for outreach events for the rest of year. School starts back at the end of this month / the beginning of next, so please pray that we can reach more families for Christ. Finally, next month we will need to renew our visas. We have an opportunities to get a very suitable visa, Lord willing, if everything works out, so please be in prayer with us about that.

Group: Next week, we will be hosting my parents and a group from their church. This is the church that I grew up in and their influence is one of the reason I am in missions today. Please pray for their trip.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China.

CategoryBanner_Marriage

Marriage (9 of 11) How Do I Serve My Spouse?

How Do I Serve My Spouse?

Marriage teaches you how to serve sinners—especially your spouse. When two individuals come together in marriage they are both entering into servanthood—meaning you are agreeing not to be self-serving, but to be a selfless servant towards your spouse. This type of service calls for self-sacrifice as exemplified by Jesus.

Jesus’ Ultimate Sacrifice Challenges Spouses To Sacrifice

  • Jesus loved us by sacrificing Himself for us. He loved us so much that He was willing to “give Himself” for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God. As believers, we are to “walk in love,” meaning that our behavior is to be characterized by the same kind of love that Jesus loved us with. We should be willing to lay down our lives for others, especially your spouse. In marriage, you serve your spouse by sacrificing yourself for his/her benefit. This means you are willing to “give yourself” to your spouse; you are willing to endure loss of someone or something for him/her; you “give up/away” your rights, time, money and wants for your spouse; it is a call to selfless sacrifice.
    Ephesians 5:2, 25; 1 John 3:16; John 15:13
  • Jesus willingly sacrificed His life for us. He had the power or authority to keep anyone from taking His life, but instead without reluctance and ungrudgingly He denied Himself and died on the cross in our place. In marriage, you serve your spouse by willingly giving up something even if you have the power to do otherwise. You are choosing to “relinquish,” meaning you voluntarily cease to keep or claim “something” for the good of your spouse. You are to do it with an attitude that honors God—you don’t live with a resentful or reluctant attitude towards him/her because of the sacrifice you made.
    John 10:18; Philippians 2:6-7

Principles From Biblical Service

  • Serving your spouse means doing acts of humility for him/her. Before Jesus was crucified on the cross, He was at supper with His disciples. He knew that His time had come and that God had given all things into His hands, but instead of exercising His great authority in this time of great anxiety He performed the lowly task of washing His disciples feet. At that time they wore sandals so it was customary to wash your feet when sitting down for a meal. This was the job of the lowest servant, but Jesus was the leader, He was the Son of God. He even knew that one of His disciples were going to betray Him, but He still chose to do this act of humility. He then challenges all believers to do the same. We are to serve those each other in lowliness of heart, even those who are under us. Therefore, in marriage you should find areas to serve your spouse through acts of humility.
    John 13:1-17
  • Serving your spouse means having a mindset of servitude. Jesus’ disciples came to Jesus and were wanting to seek greatness and it caused the others to be upset, so Jesus used this opportunity to teach them a great truth: the “great” or “chiefest” are those who are servants of all. Believers are not to exercise lordship or authority over others like unbelievers do. Just like Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve, we are to do the same. Therefore, neither spouse is to completely dominate the relationship like a master or to reign over the other like he/she has sovereign power, but instead you enter marriage with the mindset that you are to serve your spouse—not to control him/her.
    Mark 10:35-45
  • Serving your spouse means putting him/her first. After another argument among Jesus disciples about who would be greatest, Jesus told them that if anyone desired to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all. Jesus is telling them that if they want to be great, then they are to put other’s priorities over their own. Therefore, you are not to seek your needs and wants first but humbly serve your spouse by putting his/her needs above your own. His/her needs are priority in your life—especially over self.
    Mark 9:33-35
  • Serving your spouse means serving him/her as to the Lord. As Paul addressed the role of Christian servants with their masters, he directs the attention to the motivation behind the service of the servants. The servants were to serve with sincerity, fearing God (not with eyeservice, as menpleasers). Their focus was to do whatever they did heartily as unto God and not men because ultimately they served Jesus. They were to serve well even if their masters were crooked, dishonest, immoral or evasive because God was their motivation (not the person they were serving) behind their service. Therefore, in marriage you should serve your spouse even if he/she doesn’t deserve it or even if you will have to suffer wrongfully by doing so. Jesus suffered for us and left us an example and we should follow in His footsteps. God should be your motivation to serve your spouse.
    Colossians 3:17, 23-24; 1 Peter 2:18-23; 4:10-11

Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense

  • Selfishness is the opposite of serving. It means that both spouses are placing their own needs and wants as priority over his/her spouse’s. We should genuinely be concerned with our spouse’s welfare and not just for our own interests.
  • There are common areas that give rise to selfishness in marriage that every couple should be aware of: (1) Finances—money is a means of power and we often use this power to benefit ourselves more than our spouse or us the power to control them. (2) Time—this is limited and everyone has the same amount so we often want to selfishly protect our time instead of using it to serve our spouse for their benefit because we think our time is more valuable than theirs. (3) Decisions—when one spouse has to make a decision for the family, it is easy to make a selfish decision, only thinking about your needs or wants without taking your spouse into consideration. (4) Expectations—you expect certain things from your spouse in return for serving him/her, but when those expectations go unmet there will be problems. Instead you should serve without expecting anything in return—to serve out of love—no expectations. Questions: Ask yourself, are any of the contentions in your marriage because you are being selfish in these areas? What if you chose to selflessly serve your spouse, meaning that you would have to sacrifice in these areas (give up money, time, decisions, expectations), how would things change in your marriage?
  • Be a blessing to your spouse and serve him/her through your words. One of the things we learned from Jesus’ example is that He didn’t respond with sinful speech to those who orally abused Him. As a believer, you are called to respond back with blessings not the same verbal attacks or abusive words that is being spoken against you by your spouse.
    1 Peter 2:22-24; 3:8-9

Review Questions

  • Jesus loved us by doing what for us?
  • Serving your spouse means doing what?
  • Serving your spouse means having what?
  • Serving your spouse means putting who first?
  • What are the common areas that give rise to selfishness in marriage?
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A Testimony From A Project China Internship (Kanon)

We have really enjoyed hosting Kanon as an intern for 6 months last year. God really used Him during his time here and we still have fruit in the church for his internship. I asked him to write a testimonial about his time here. Hopefully it will give you some insight to what an internship in China is like and encouragement for more of you to come intern with us!

Recommendation:

I had the opportunity in 2015 to do a six-month internship in China with missionary Mark. I learned a lot about ministry in China, enjoyed my experience, and grew greatly in my walk with the Lord during this time. If you are someone that is considering being a missionary to China or Asia, I would highly recommend doing an internship with someone from the project China team. Here are a few reasons why I think it would be beneficial to you.

Church-planting experience:

You get to be involved in an actual church plant. This was one of the things that I enjoyed most about my internship. I got to help and see firsthand the process of planting a church. I didn’t just get to hear a class about how church planting is done rather I got to watch and be involved in it happening. I think having this practical experience is what someone that wants to be a missionary desperately needs to have. The internship provides you with this opportunity.

Cultural experiences:

You get to be immersed in Chinese culture. While doing the internship, I spent time each week learning Chinese, getting to know Chinese people, and learning the culture. This was an experience I needed. From books and TV shows, you cannot really grasp what the language and culture are like, but when you live in China each day you get to learn what it is really like.

Relationship with the missionaries:

You get mentorship in many different aspects of a missionary’s life. My missionary friend Mark and I talked about many different topics during my six months I spent in China. I was able to get advise and counsel about things like deputation, writing sermons, how to set up a house in China, how to do banking in China, different outreach ideas, and many other areas of life that a missionary needs to learn more about.

Practical ministry:

You get to see God use you to make a difference in people’s lives! I got to make new contacts, invite people to church, and witness to people during my time in China. I got to experience telling people the Gospel and then realize that I was the very first person that had explained it to them. I was able to see God use me in many different ways to reach people for Christ. These are opportunities that are very special. You can get these kind of opportunities on an internship to China!

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Marriage (8 of 11) How Do I Love My Spouse?

How Do I Love My Spouse?

Marriage teaches you how to love sinners—especially your spouse. Marriage doesn’t create the problems that arise between you and your spouse but it does reveal the problems as your start to live life together. As these problems arise, you have a choice to love your spouse in the same way that you have experienced love from God through Jesus.

What Should Love In Marriage Be Like?

  • The Old Testament describes some characteristics about love within a marriage covenant: (1) Love is being solely committed to your spouse like a seal on your heart or arm. A “seal” was like a personal stamp or object to sign documents. It showed ownership of something and was closely guarded. (2) Love between you and your spouse is to be unending or unyielding, just as strong as death which is without end. (3) Love is being completely devoted to your spouse with extreme intensity and conviction. Marriage zeal (righteous jealousy) is the appropriate desire for what you have a right to (your spouse) just like death (the grave) is relentless (cruel) and doesn’t give up the dead—nor do we give up our love—it binds us together forever. (4) Love between you and your spouse is “all-consuming” like a blazing fire. (5) Love cannot be quenched no matter the difficulty that arises. It is a fire that can’t be extinguished by many waters or drowned in a flood—it is invincible. (6) Love in marriage is priceless—it cannot be bought but only given. If you tried to give everything you owned for your spouse’s love, it would be totally rejected because real love can’t be purchased—it is greater than all material value.
    Song of Solomon 8:6-7
  • The New Testament describes some characteristics about true love and what it is really like. You can apply these truths to know how to love your spouse with a perfect love—a love that never fails: (1) suffers long—patient and even-tempered during difficult times with your spouse; (2) kind—try to be gentle, considerate and sympathetic with your spouse; (3) envies not—doesn’t become upset over your spouse’s advantages; (4) vaunts not itself (boastful)—you aren’t focused on expressing your self-importance but on your spouse’s; (5) not puffed up (prideful)—doesn’t exaggerate a sense of self at the detriment of your spouse; (6) does not behave itself unseemly (rude)—not being offensive or impolite to your spouse; (7) seeks not its own—doesn’t take advantage of your spouse to fulfill your own desires; (8) not easily provoked—doesn’t get easily upset or irritable at your spouse and doesn’t take everything personally; (9) thinks no evil—doesn’t keep count of all your spouse’s failures or sins and become resentful towards him/her; (10) rejoices not in iniquity—doesn’t feel happy when your spouse does wrong; (11) rejoices in the truth—does feel happy when your spouse does right; (12) bears all things—willing to suffer everything that marriage brings; (13) believes all things—willing to trust your spouse without limits; (14) hopes all things—willing to expect good in your marriage; (15) endures all things—willing to courageously withstand all trials by your spouse’s side.
    1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Principles From Biblical Love

  • Loving your spouse means choosing to serve and sacrifice. The ultimate example of love is the love of God greatly expressed towards us through Jesus’ death on the cross. He was willing to sacrifice everything including His life so that we might be saved. Love in marriage should also reflect this type of sacrificial love and be one that is all-giving and is willing to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of his/her spouse. You shouldn’t enter marriage with the expectation to be “ministered to” by your spouse but “to minister” to your spouse.
    John 15:12-13; Mark 10:45
  • Loving your spouse means choosing to love first. The Bible says that God “first loved us” and because of that, “we love Him.” We didn’t initiate the love but God did—He chose to love us when we didn’t love Him. You are commanded to love others, including your spouse, with this same kind of love. This means that when an issue needs to be resolved in your marriage, you don’t wait for your spouse to initiate the loving process that will restore the relationship, but you will choose to love first and initiate the loving process even if it is your spouse’s fault because you are loving him/her like God loved you.
    1 John 4:10-11, 19
  • Loving your spouse means choosing to love when he/she doesn’t deserve it. When we were still enemies of God, Jesus died for us, therefore your love towards your spouse isn’t based on the current conditions (whether good or bad) of your marriage, but you love regardless of the situation—even when it is not merited or not reciprocated.
    Romans 5:7-8

Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense

  • There are five practical ways to express love to your spouse: words, actions, time, gifts, touch. Each of these are important to express love to your spouse, but there may also be one or more that is prominent to your spouse—meaning they feel more loved when you express a certain one. Therefore, study your spouse and discover what expression makes them feel loved the most and start showing love in that way.
  • Loving your spouse means choosing to love the person but hate his/her sin. How do love your spouse but hate his/her sin? The Bible says that you are to love others like you love yourself and in this simple command we have the answer to our question. You struggle with sin, you hate it when you do sin, sometimes you don’t understand why you have a hard time with sin, but even though you greatly dislike your sin, you sill love yourself. When you sin you don’t hate yourself, but you hate the wrong thing you did—the sin. You hate the sin because you love yourself and know it isn’t right. If you didn’t love yourself then you wouldn’t care what you did. Therefore, to love your spouse but hate his/her sin is to learn from your own example and love him/her like you love yourself.
    Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 5:33
  • Love is not reduced to feelings (like so many movies, books, songs and other worldly media present it), but love is an action. This means that you can choose to love your spouse even when all the feelings of being “in-love” have disappeared. It is a decision that you have to make each and every day even if the natural feelings aren’t there.
  • Your spouse will change and your love should grow with those changes. You probably loved who your spouse was when you got married, but your spouse will drastically change over time and will no longer be that person. Each person is being molded into something new (emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, physically) by life’s experiences and you are choosing to love not only who they are today but who they will become.

Review Questions

  • How does the Old Testament describe love?
  • How does the New Testament describe love?
  • What are three principles from biblical love?
  • What are five practical ways to express love to your spouse?
  • How do you love your spouse but hate their sin?
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A Testimony From A Project China Internship (Megan)

We have really enjoyed hosting Megan as an intern for the past 10-weeks. She has been a blessing to our family and ministry while she was here and I asked her to write a testimonial about her time here. Hopefully it will give you some insight to what an internship in China is like and encouragement for more of you to come intern with us!

Direction for the mission:

New culture, new foods, new friends, new language, new opportunities, new customs (endless etc.) are what you will experience if you come spend your summer in China…but that is not truly the best part about coming and working here. Getting the opportunity to share the Gospel message with someone who has potentially never even heard it before—now that’s rewarding! I would like to share with you some of the things that I have learned and experienced during my 10 week internship here in China and hopefully encourage you to consider if the Lord might be leading you to come serve here too!

Being a Missions-Internship major at the Bible college I attend, I was required to do an internship as part of the completion of my degree. As I was searching for different opportunities and looking at my options, China continued to be in the back of my mind. For many years I have thought I might end up serving in China, because God had burdened my heart many years ago for this country. Little did I know that He was preparing my heart for this summer! As I was making my decision for the summer, I could not get China out of my mind, so I was pretty sure that it was where God wanted me to pursue going. I began doing what I needed to do to get there, and the missionaries helped guide me through the process. God blessed me tremendously through many generous supporters (which was just another confirmation that God was opening the door for me to go!). Before I knew it, I was on my way!

Opportunities during the internship:

I have had so many opportunities here. I have been able to have Bible studies with ladies that I have met at English corners, some of which I have seen grow in their understanding of God’s Word! I have had the privilege of helping with the kids’ club and teaching an English Sunday school class at the church. Also, I have had the opportunity to host a couple of ladies’ activities. During my time here, I have also done some English tutoring for children, which the church provides for free as an outreach. There are so many people here, so there is always more need for servants to come help with the ministry! Because of the incredible amount of people in the city, it is hard to even put into words the amount of need. As I have experienced ministering here, God has continued to give me peace that this is where He wanted me this summer. Not only that, but as of right now, I am strongly thinking that China is where I will plan to serve long-term (unless God redirects me). My heart has been so full here.

Relationship with the missionaries:

I have learned a lot from the missionaries! Because I hope to be on the field full-time someday, it was incredibly practical to see firsthand a family that is already in ministry. I have spent so much time in their home and have been able to serve alongside them. It has given me a real picture of what it is like to serve with a missionary team. The countless hours I have spent with the missionary wife are something I will treasure for…well, probably ever! We have had many good conversations and I have been able to ask her a lot of questions. From the times we have gone out to discuss plans for the week, to the times I have helped her cook dinner, and everything in between – I have really been blessed by the time spent with her.

Practical experience:

I have been able to experience firsthand what ministry is like in another country. No place is exactly the same; but now that I have served in a culture that is different from my own, I feel more prepared for future ministry. Another benefit I have experienced is learning about the missionaries’ ministry philosophy and their perspective on how missions should be done. They have accomplished much and have a desire to be good stewards of the time that God has given them!

Another thing I was able to experience during this internship is language school. I actually attended classes and had a tutor to help me learn the Chinese language. I cannot overemphasize how practical this part of the internship was. The first several years on the field are focused on language school, so learning Chinese helped me to see another part of missionary life – and a very difficult part it is! I have learned a lot from my classes and I hope to continue studying on my own when I am back in the States.

Spiritual Growth:

I have also grown a lot spiritually during this internship. Because the missionaries hold me accountable by checking in on my personal devotions, and because they have other weekly requirements for spiritual growth, I can say that I have grown in that way over the summer. In ministry, it is very easy to face burnout; but because of the focus on making sure to be fed spiritually, I have been edified so that I can serve more effectively. I have also just grown in general, as there have been many things that have stretched me and taken me out of my comfort zone. There were many times when I was reminded of my desperate need for God. Time and time again over the summer I was reminded of my pride and my need to let go of it so that I can be used by God!

Recommendation:

These are just only a few of the many things I have learned and experienced during my time here. Would I encourage you to go serve alongside Mark and Natasha China? If you are looking for the opportunity to learn from missionaries on the field, while they are on the field, and engage in ministry yourself, all while experiencing a new culture and language, then yes – I would highly encourage you to pray about and consider coming to this city with so much opportunity and need for evangelism and discipleship! “…The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:37).

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July 2016 Prayer Letter

There has been so much that has happened since last month. God is really working in our lives and we are thankful for His faithfulness and grace in our lives.

Blessing: God has been blessing the church recently with many new faces attending our services. We have been averaging around 47 in our morning service for the past four weeks. There are another 10-20 who come and go during the different services and programs. We are seeing many new people come because of the kids’ club. My wife and all the volunteers have done a great job with it. Also, I started a sermon series in our afternoon service on parenting a few weeks ago and this past week we had our largest crowd attend the afternoon service because other moms were encouraging people to stay for the teaching. Many have already expressed how they have been blessed by the sermons. Please continue to pray for souls to be saved. Every week I stand in front of the crowd and passionately plead for them to believe in Jesus. He will radically change their lives if they will just repent and trust Him.

Salvation: Our family had a wonderful vacation on the North side of the city. On the last day of our getaway, as we sat down for lunch, our oldest daughter looked at me and said she was ready to believe in Jesus. I asked her a few questions and realized God was working in her heart. To my surprise she already made the decision, but we still went out to the car to get a Bible and make sure she understood everything. She did and God saved her. In tears of joy we praised Jesus for saving our oldest daughter. Also, this past week one of the young men who had been coming to english corner and who had heard the gospel several times, told us that he also made a decision to become a Christian. Praise God for is His work of saving grace. Continue to pray, there are so many that I could name by name that haven’t trusted Jesus yet, but are under the influence of the word of God each week.

Internship: We have really enjoyed hosting Megan as an intern for the past 10-weeks. She has been a blessing to our family and ministry while here. Pray for her as she returns to the States to finish her schooling and go where the Lord leads.

Opportunities: God has sent a lot of people our way for help. Often they come humbled and willing to learn and heed biblical council. I am thankful for these opportunities because it has humbled me by pointing out many of my errors and caused me to strive to do better as husband, father and pastor.  It breaks my heart to know of all the marriage, parenting and other problems people are facing, but I am also reminded that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China.

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Marriage (7 of 11) How Do I Forgive My Spouse?

How Do I Forgive My Spouse?

Marriage teaches you how to forgive sinners—especially your spouse. A perfect marriage doesn’t exists—all marriages will have to deal with sin, struggles, anger, resentment, bitterness, disagreements, arguments, hard times, etc. But as endeavor to obey the Bible and live life together with your spouse, you will learn how to instantly and continually forgive your spouse when he/she wrongs you in the same way that you have experienced forgiveness by God through Jesus.

The Spouse Forgiven By Jesus, Learns To Forgive His/Her Spouse

  • Jesus is the standard to measure our forgiveness—meaning that we are to forgive in the same way and to the same extent that Jesus forgave us. As believers, Jesus has completely forgave all of our sins: past, present and future. Every failure and wrong thing we have done is forgiven. Forgiveness means the offended one chooses to pardon all the consequences of the wrongdoing by the offender—not causing them to pay the full price. Jesus endured hardship while on earth, but also took the initiative to forgive. In the same way, you are to forbear your spouse—meaning that you have to endure the hardships that come with marriage even during the unpleasant and difficult times, but also you are to pardon all the consequences (anger, resentment, bitterness, silence) for the wrongdoing they have done against you. This is a simple principle: “The forgiven forgive”—because Jesus forgave you, you should be willing to forgive others. Ultimately, forgiveness is a command to be obeyed. Therefore, the first step to learning how to forgive your spouse is to first experience true forgiveness for yourself by the Great Forgiver—Jesus.
    Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32
  • Jesus forgave those He loved when they sinned against Him. He was sent on a mission to save sinners because of God’s love for them. Jesus worked great miracles, taught the truth of God and only showed loved towards mankind. But mankind rejected His love and crucified Him on the cross. As He was hanging on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Jesus was willing to forgive those who rejected and crucified Him. Ultimately, He did nothing but love them and they sinned against Him, but Jesus forgave them—even as He was being offended—He was willing to pay the debt for their offense. Therefore, forgiving your spouse includes being willing to forgive them as you are being offended—knowing Jesus already payed the debt for their sins.
    Luke 23:33-34
  • Jesus forgiveness is always available. As believers, we are to continually confess our sins to God and we know that God, through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, is faithful and just to forgive our sins. When we first confess our sins and Jesus as Lord, we receive salvation and establish our permanent relationship (nothing can change this), but continual confession is part of our life to maintain healthy fellowship with God. It means that we recognize the sin in our lives, agree with God about it and see it from His perspective. Ultimately, continual confession is a characteristic of a true believer and God is continually cleaning us from all unrighteousness. Therefore, forgiving your spouse includes always making your forgiveness available and approachable.
    1 John 1:9; Colossians 2:13; Luke 15:11-32; Luke 17:3-4

Principles From Biblical Forgiveness

  • Forgiving your spouse means removing his/her sin from him/her. It means that you choose to no longer see him/her as that person or identify them by their sin (no more name calling). The Bible says that as far as the East is from the West, so far God has removed our “transgressions” from us. The distance between the East and the West can be unending and in the same way God has distanced our sin from us. He doesn’t hold our past sins and failures over our head, but makes them distant from us in such a way they are no longer associated with us. Forgiveness in marriage means no longer associating your spouse’s sin with your spouse.
    Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19
  • Forgiving your spouse means forgetting his/her sin. The Bible says that God forgives our iniquity and He will remember our sin no more. God is willing to forget all of our wrongdoings and how we have offended Him. It may be hard for us to forget the sins of our spouse, but this is where the “process of forgiveness” comes into play—meaning each time it comes into your thoughts you choose to not think on it and forgive your spouse once again. Forgiveness in marriage means no longer keeping in mind your spouse’s sin for contemplation or consideration.
    Jeremiah 31:34
  • Forgiving your spouse means blotting out his/her sins. The Bible says that not only does God choose to not remember our sins, but that He blots out our transgressions for His own sake. God erases the record of all of our acts that go against Him or His law. There is no list that keeps track of all of our failures or sins. Forgiveness in marriage means no longer keeping a mental or physical record of any of your spouse’s sins.
    Isaiah 43:25

Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense

  • Every marriage goes through struggles and problems, so it isn’t “if” but “when” and how you choose to respond to it is the important part. You need to choose to move towards your spouse when you fall so that things can be resolved, not away from him/her.
  • Unforgiveness hurts you and your spouse. It is like a poison you drink expecting to hurt the other person—but since you are united together as one it hurts both sides. Not forgiving each other in marriage can lead to lasting hurt feelings which can lead to apathy, criticism, silence, sexlessness, independence or sudden bursts of anger. No one wins when unforgiveness reigns.
  • Anger is often a result of being sinned against. The Bible tells us not to sin in response to this anger but to deal with it daily. The reason is that prolonged anger can lead us to sin. Therefore, we should make it a habit to do all we can to fix the situation right away.
    Ephesians 4:26-27; Psalm 4:4; Romans 12:17-21
  • If God removes, forgets and blots out our sin, then we can conclude that He isn’t going to mention it again. We should do the same. There is no need to bring up your spouse’s sins again during an argument if you are truly trying to forgive them like Jesus forgave you.
  • Whenever there is physical, verbal or sexual abuse; martial unfaithfulness or other destructive behavior that extends beyond normal disagreements or arguments it needs to be reported to the correct authorities and a third party may be needed to help with this confrontation and prevent future abuse.

Review Questions

  • Who is the standard to measure our forgiveness? Why?
  • What did Jesus do when those He loved sinned against Him?
  • When is Jesus forgiveness available?
  • What are three principles from biblical forgiveness?
  • Is there unforgiveness in your marriage or life that needs dealt with?