Most of our readers are aware of the mission work we are involved with in the village of Muñoz.
What began as emergency assistance following a devastating fire has developed into a wonderful relationship with the local Pastor and folks in the community.
This is a new addition for which we are also raising funds for supplies. Locals will be doing the work!
Gospel Team Outreach has been able to build four small homes as well as help with reparations on the church. This included a massive cleanup immediately following the fire last year.
Through the generous giving of people and churches in North America and Puerto Rico, we have also been able to support the school and provide essential education for approximately eighty children.
As the current school year draws to a close, Pastor Patrick and I are planning for next year. The children’s needs include supplies, books, uniforms, and shoes. I am asking each of our friends and partnering churches to once again consider getting financially involved with this fruitful endeavor.
The Pastor will be making a trip to Haiti next month wherein most books can be purchased at a discounted price. I can assure you, the kids of Muñoz are “the least of these” of whom Jesus spoke. Our goal is to raise about $6,000.00 to cover all expenses for the entire school year! Imagine: Eighty children receiving a quality education at an average cost of $75.00 per student for the year (including uniforms, shoes, books, and supplies).
Please pray and consider being a part of this great opportunity to bless those who have no way of repaying. God will bring the reward and return on every investment made!
“And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).
For many folks, the above title brings to mind the great book by Corrie Ten Boom. However, for me, it describes where I have been recently. God has brought me to a very obscure place to learn of Him and experience His presence. In this wonderful place I find peace, rest, and restoration in my spirit, soul, and body.
The Psalmist speaks of such a place:
“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).
From both a spiritual and natural point of view, God desires to hide us in His pavilion. My personal “hiding place” just happens to also be a high place atop our apartment. It is here, in my “cave,” that I am able to spend precious times alone with the Lord while meditating upon Him and His Word. Thus, tremendous rest and fresh revelation are experienced.
We believers seem to go through various quandaries at times. On one hand we are called to mature, while at the same time we must “come as a child.”
Perhaps God wants us to become more childlike the older we get. I speak of the simplicity of faith and humility.
As the Lord brings me to this place of hiding and obscurity, there is a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for what Christ has done. There is open communication and dialogue as I both speak and listen to the Spirit. Never have I valued the divine indwelling so much as now and at this present stage of life.
As I stand on the rooftop patio of our home, I view the beauty of God’s creation: ocean, mountains, birds, and palm trees. Yet, even this pales when I consider how that Christ has sent His Spirit to abide in us.
Friends, it is so easy to neglect, even ignore, this most precious gift. God of creation has chosen to make mankind His dwelling place on the earth. He abides in us, and we abide in Him. May we consider the words of Paul:
“For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring’” (Acts 17:28).
May we come to fully understand that in and of ourselves we can do nothing, and there is nothing of eternal value. Yet, because we abide in Christ, and He in us, we are filled with divine heavenly treasure.
Jesus, Himself stated:
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30).
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Just as Christ maintained a constant relationship and communication with the Father, we can as well. He said and did what He heard and saw . . . for His life was solely dependent upon His Father. Are we greater than He?
I have come to love and value a life of obscurity where I can truly experience the presence of the Lord.
“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” (Psalm 32:7).
"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
As we continue to examine some of the characteristics of a disciple of Christ, let’s next consider the three found in the verse above.
To be sure, each is essential to our success. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is a vital part of the Christian journey and cannot be overstated. True faith is unwavering and keeps us from being “tossed to and fro” throughout the adventures of life. We cannot even be saved without faith!
"For by grace you have been saved through faith . . . " (Ephesians 2:8).
Faith is the channel through which grace flows. It is what gives us the ability to stand (2 Corinthians 1:24) regardless of what is happening around us. The voice of faith leads the believer to do what may seem impossible in a world of chaos and sin. Faith follows even when it does not understand and is unable to see or know where it leads.
So much could be written about the topic of faith that I will not even attempt to wax long. What is relative to this discourse is how faith, hope, and love are intricately woven together. Faith says and does something; hope feels something; love unites the two in order to accomplish the will of God.
Hope is the anchor of our soul (mind, will, emotions) and without an anchor, we are prone to wander aimlessly through life. However, hope is also fundamental to faith.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).
It is clearly evident that without hope it is impossible to have faith; without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
As God spoke the light into existence, He did so full of faith. The Lord knew that darkness would be overcome when He spoke. The same is true regarding all that He has created. When faith speaks things happen, whether or not the result is immediately visible to the human eye.
Jesus made reference to this “God-kind” of faith in Mark 11:22. A correct interpretation of the verse would read: “Have faith of God.”
It is one thing to say we have faith in God; it is quite another to have the faith of God.
And what is it that motivates this quality of faith?
The Apostle Paul wrote of faith that works by or through love. Consider: the one motivation we see demonstrated by God is that of love. This is the reason behind the original creation and is the whole reason that God sent His Son to redeem and restore what had been lost through the sin of man (John 3:16). Love is the driving force behind everything God does. Even His chastening is the result of His great love.
Now we see how these three—faith, hope, and love—are pillars of Christianity. Without hope we cannot have faith. Without faith we cannot please God. The love of God is the motivation that drives faith.
One more point: God does not leave us relying on our own ability to love. Rather, He sent His Spirit to fill our lives and pour His love into our hearts.
"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:5).
Much can be said in regard to Christian discipleship. I recall some years ago preaching a series on this specific topic. As I focused exclusively on the words of Jesus throughout the Gospel accounts, I was very impressed with what the Lord had to say about what was required to be a true disciple. Obviously, there are many qualities associated with genuine Christianity.
We could certainly list the “fruit of the Spirit” as essential keys to our success as followers of Christ, along with a wide variety of character traits. I am in no way attempting to cover all of the necessary points here. Let’s begin with just a couple . . .
Webster’s: The ability to do something you know is difficult or dangerous; mental or moral strength
It is no accident that the book of Joshua begins with Jehovah God reminding His servant of the need to remain “strong and of good courage.” Three times in as many verses the admonishment is given (Joshua 1:6,7,9). God first made clear the promise and then issued the instructions upon which the promise was contingent.
Courage involves demonstrating ability to overcome fear, doubt, and worry. It is not merely the absence of fear. It takes courage to “walk by faith, not by sight”; to stand against the wiles of our adversary and the trends of the world; to overcome sin and temptation. Obeying God may seem to be risky business to our human mind, logic, and reasoning. Often, the road less traveled is a lonely path to follow.
Peter lacked courage to be a witness until he received the Holy Spirit and became bold for Christ. It takes courage to completely “sell out” to God. However, the Lord calls us to be “all in.” Are we truly committed to do all things for His glory?
Strong’s: To be convinced, persuaded, believe, trust
Webster’s: Belief that you can do something well or succeed; conviction
In whom or what does our confidence stand?
The disciple of Christ must be confident—even in the face of rejection—in order to fulfill the vision and purpose of God. Humility is vital to confidence. True humility recognizes, “in myself nothing, in Christ everything.”
"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
We must have confidence that if God has called us, He will be with us throughout the journey. Do we have a sense of “calling,” or are we simply drifting along in life? A sense of calling brings both confidence in God and confidence that we are able to accomplish the purposes of God.
"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes" (Psalm 118:8-9).
To put ultimate confidence in others, even ourselves, will often result in disappointment and frustration. It is God’s power working through us that gives us confidence to overcome and experience success and victory in life.
"Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward" (Hebrews 10:35).
Courage and confidence will carry us through many of life’s challenges and bring us to ultimate prosperity and good success for the glory of God!