Missions: Ministry Updates

YGBS started the new school year the first week in June with 42 students.

This exceeds the enrollment of most other Bible schools in the city. God is continuing to bless Philip’s ministry with abundant participation in his programs.

“My prayer at this time,” Philip explains, “is that we the teachers will be helped by the Holy Spirit to set an example worth following in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Teachers and students will take a mission trip to the Mindat area at the end of July for the purpose of encouraging students to enter the field of evangelism. Students will witness to the animists who live in primitive/remote mountain areas

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Christian Living: God’s Thoughts Are Higher

In the book of Job we see his friends offering what they think is godly advice and judgment. They are all in agreement that Job has done something wrong to incur the punishment he is enduring and they chastise him to look at his life.

Job maintains his innocence throughout the book. And well he should, because it was God alone who engineered the circumstances Job found himself in. Interestingly enough, Job’s friends used godly principles to come to the conclusion that Job must have sinned. Each offered words that supported his theory and is certain beyond doubt about what he believes.

Job, however, continued to defend himself and as we know, eventually takes his case before God Almighty. It’s been noted that – even though the friends’ positions were largely theologically correct – they were not applied accurately to this particular individual in these particular circumstances.

Job’s friends are examples of people who have the ‘right’ answers but don’t understand what God is doing in a particular situation.

We have to remember that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and while it may look like someone is suffering due to sin or disobedience in his life, this is not always the case. Job was righteous and God shows his evaluation of him at the end of the book. He tells Job’s friends that they have “not spoken accurately about Him, as his servant Job has.”

Then God has Job pray for his friends and He accepts the prayer on their behalf. He also blesses Job with twice as much as he had before. We need to remember that sometimes – well-meaning as we may be – we simply do not know what God is doing in in the life of someone else.

Throughout history, God has orchestrated circumstances beyond our understanding, and they don’t always fit the model we have in mind. Sometimes it’s best to sit in silence. Sometimes it’s best not to give advice but just to sit and listen.

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Christian Living: From “Make One” To “Be One”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. — Romans 12:1-2

In the Old Testament, God instructs the children of Israel to sacrifice dead animals on the altar. In other words, to “make” sacrifices unto Him. In the New Testament, God modified the command to say that the believers in Jesus Christ were to offer their own bodies to God in sacrifice. In other words, to “be” a sacrifice.

There is a huge difference between the two. No longer are we to worship God with dead animal sacrifices, but now we must be more personally involved in that act of worship — by placing our own bodies figuratively speaking on the altar of life. According to the Romans passage, we should no longer conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

How do we accomplish this? By changing our behavior to no longer look like the rest of the world.

J.B. Phillips, in his well-known translation of this passage, puts it this way: “Don’t let the world…squeeze you into its mold.” Instead, we are to “renew our minds” through a variety of means.

First and foremost, we must exchange Satan’s rules for the image of God instead. We must aim to be “conformed to the likeness of [God’s] Son.” – Romans 8:29

Then we must study the Bible diligently. How else can we live according to God’s standards?

Obviously, we must first learn what those standards actually are. And finally, we need to “test and approve what God’s will is.” The idea here is that the renewed mind will discover and put into action God’s will in his life.

He will sacrifice the preferences of the human nature and choose to follow the precepts of God instead.

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Christian Living: Back on the Straight and Narrow

The fifteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel gives us the very familiar story of The Prodigal Son. There are many lessons that can be learned from this parable – all beneficial teachings – but the most memorable might be the scene where the father unconditionally accepts his son back into his open arms.

That’s an important point, but there’s more to the story than just this. Imagine for a moment how you would feel if your child left and you did not see him for months on end, maybe even years. Would he always be on your mind? In your heart? Would you find yourself looking for him in the crowds everywhere you go? Would you continually search the horizon, hoping to see him a long way off—coming home to you at last?

As unimaginable as it may be, God loves us more than we love our own children. Wouldn’t he be doing—and feeling— even more than we would? The Bible tells us that God is always looking down the road for us. He never stops. He sees the times when we begin walking in His direction but then veer off another way. He knows when we are up, and when we are down.

He sees when we are so broken we can barely crawl. He sees our outstretched hand and does the most astounding thing. Just like the father in our story, He breaks into a run and opens His arms to receive us home—unconditionally.

Keeping all this in mind, go to your Bible and read Luke 15:11-24 with fresh eyes. Do it now. Let God speak to you personally about the areas of your life that have been “prodigal.” Wastefully extravagant. Listen carefully. Then step quietly back onto the path that will take you home to Him. God will start running the minute that you do

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Words of Wisdom: Comfort in Times of Distress

In II Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul talks about one of his close encounters with death:

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

Another time Paul tells Timothy that “the Lord stood with me…and I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth.” There are many other passages that tell us about the hardships and suffering Paul endured, yet he did not die until he had completed the good work God started in him.

Today we may be threatened in different ways than Paul was, but there is still real and present danger in our world. North Korea promises to launch a missile, bombs go off killing and injuring hundreds of people, crazy persons shoot down innocent children. Our country is not immune to the increasingly violent and wicked acts of man.

The question remains: What can we do when we find ourselves in mortal danger as Paul did so many times in his life? The answer for us is exactly what it was for Paul in the first chapter of Second Corinthians. We must stop relying on ourselves and lean on God and the prayers of other believers. We can be confident that He will rescue us, stand with us and deliver us out of difficult circumstances, even death!

Does God rescue us every time we face death? Of course not! Someday we will complete the number of days He has given us and bring to a conclusion the good work He started in us. Until that time, however, we can be certain that He will stand by us and—with the prayers of the saints—deliver us again and again. No wonder then, that in the third verse of Second Corinthians, Paul refers to God as the “God of all comfort.”

Our confidence and reliance in times of trouble need be only in one Person. God. He will deliver us out of the lion’s mouth.

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Words of Encouragement: Understanding Worship

During a special time of meditation, God led my thoughts to different “defining moments” in the life of a believer. These moments are those significant events that occur unexpectedly in the course of the day, that end up changing forever how we see life from that point forward.

For some, it might be a moment when you finally realize God’s purpose for your life; or when you understand for the first time the immensity of the sacrifice Jesus made just for you. Or it might be a teaching during which you finally wrap your head around the mystery of the Holy Trinity or come to grips with a difficult passage of scripture.

Whatever you include in your list of life-defining moments, the circumstance of your salvation is surely the most life-changing of them all.

One of my defining moments occurred on a visit to Seattle where I was to attend a conference on evangelism. I returned home with far more than new thoughts on evangelism. Instead, I possessed an entirely new outlook on the purpose of worship.

I was a relatively new Christian at the time and an enthusiastic student of the Bible. I read about worship in the Old Testament and the New, and believed that I fully understood the meaning of the word. The worship service every Sunday at our church was the highlight of my week.

Looking back, however, I can now see that I was merely going through the motions. At the conference in Seattle, the day began with a session of group prayer, followed by praise and worship led by a very gifted worship leader. Beginning at the crack of dawn, we didn’t finish up until the conference began its daily agenda, about two hours later.

The day would end with another hour or so of more prayer and worship before bedtime. Both sessions were equally simple, direct and heartfelt. This was worship as I had never experienced it.

It changed my understanding of true worship forever.

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Bible Study: How the Bible Counts Days

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. —Matthew 12:40

One of the more frequently asked questions about the Bible has to do with the period of time between Jesus’ crucifixion and His resurrection. In other words, if Jesus was crucified during the afternoon of Good Friday and is resurrected before the dawn of Sunday morning – the first day of the week – how does this fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah would be in the grave three days and three nights “as Jonah was in the belly of a huge fish”?

The Bible repeatedly declares that Jesus was crucified on The Feast of the Passover which occurred on Friday. By Western calculations, the “three days and three nights” would require the passage of 72 hours, which would put the resurrection on Monday afternoon at the same time of day that the death and burial occurred.

However, the Bible clearly states in Matthew 16:21 that Jesus would be “raised again on the third day.”

If Jesus was in the grave for the 72 hours that Westerners assume, that would put the resurrection on Day 4, not Day 3. Count them: Day 1, Friday; Day 2, Saturday; Day 3, Sunday; Day 4, Monday. Obviously, then, there is a difference in the way we understand today the phrase “three days and three nights” and the way the Bible considered it back then.

The ancient Jews counted any part of a day as a whole day. It didn’t have to be a full 24-hour period of time. In other words, if Jesus died during the afternoon on Friday, Friday counted as the first day. Saturday would be the second day, and finally Sunday would be the third day (even though only a few hours had elapsed of the day).

The people in Jesus’ day would have understood that the period between late Friday and Sunday morning was a period of “three days and three nights.” When Scripture says of Jesus in Matthew 16 that “He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life,” they would have known that this did not contradict the earlier statement (as it might appear to us).

Bottom line: Scripture is to be interpreted in light of the times in which it was written.

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