Short-term mission trips are vital for Christians and the Church. Here are five reasons to get involved with short-term missions at your church.
Archives For Missions
Paul gives some wise advice to the church in Ephesus from his experiences in ministry as he is saying his last goodbye before heading to Jerusalem that all believers can profit from. Read the Scripture below and see how you are imitating Paul’s example in ministry to the Ephesians.
Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders
Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities
and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
(Acts 20:17-35 ESV)
Do Not Shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God.
As believers, we must be willing to share and discuss everything according to God’s word. In our culture it is not always the popular thing to proclaim what the word of God has to say on a certain topic. But Christians must be willing to proclaim God’s desires and be willing to act in a fashion that would bring those to reality.
How can you be better at giving the full counsel of God?
Pay Careful Attention to Yourself and to the Flock God has entrusted you with.
Believers must pay careful attention to their spiritual walk and the spiritual walk of those around them. Every believer is both a sheep and a shepherd. They are first a sheep under the authority of the true shepherd which is Christ and we are to seek His will and conform to it. The second they are a shepherd to those around them, prodding and pushing others to grow closer to Jesus. This may be through witnessing to friends who do not know the Lord or encouraging other believers to leave their sin and get serious about their spiritual walk with God.
What can you do to guard yourself spiritually? Who do you need to help get closer to God?
Value the Church because God has obtained it with His own blood.
Believers must also value what the Lord values and that is His church which He set up and purchased through His work on the cross. Therefore believers must respect and honor the church as the future bride of Christ. This would include honoring other believers within the church even when you have disagreements and defending the church when others are speaking against it.
How do you value the church that God loves?
Be Alert. Wolves will come in among you
Christians will always be under persecution whether at this current moment or in the near future. Therefore, when it comes do not be surprised. “Be Alert” as Paul says and be ready for it mentally and spiritually. Determine for yourself now what you will do.
Will you stay in the fight and not give up or will you collapse under the pressure?
Pray for and Admonish the Church even through tears
All believers should be in constant prayer. Not only for ourselves but also for those around them. This would include praying for those who are going through a hard time and those about to go through a hard time. Believers should even be in the midst of prayer for others when they are going through a hard time themselves.
Who can you pray for and admonish today?
Do Not Covet the Worldly things of life.
One of the most covertly destructive things a believer can do is start to covet worldly things. This is a big one in our consumer culture because we can even tie these worldly things to our spiritual walk. Such as a new iPad for Bible study or the new super expensive study Bible or whatever it may be. The point it is, is that when we start to place our trust more in the new, hip, & trendy thing, we lose sight of the true savior, Jesus.
What do you need to let go of in order to place Jesus at the top of your mind and heart?
In my devotional this morning I was inspired by the content that Oswald Chambers put forth. He addresses an issue that is not discussed as much as it should be in the Christian world today. Chambers addressed the topic of how to get more connected with God. I paraphrased a few of my thoughts while reading it below. (you can read the entire devotional for yourself at www.utmost.org)
My vision of God is dependent on the condition of my character. If my character is flawed, so will my vision be. My character determines whether God’s truth can be revealed to me.
Before you can claim to see the Lord, there must be something that is conformed to the likeness of God in you. This requires you to put God first in all circumstances before we can be in continual communion with Him.
As I was reading and thinking through this I couldn’t help but thinking of my life and those around me seeking a deeper relationship with God without knowing really how to get there. It would seem that in the midst of all the easy-going self-help / motivational sermons and bible studies that we have lost our understanding of what it takes to have a correct relationship with God.
[Side Note: I say this because I listen to a lot of podcasts from across the nation and I read a lot of books and recently it seems that we shy away from the root problem of sin and the value of living a holy life. To be honest, it is troubling to me that the only place I seem to find any illusion to a commitment to holiness is found in the Scripture and in the writings of older theologians such as Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody, etc. or ones that are not as old such as Oswald Chambers or Bill Graham.]
Let us not be fooled friends, the Lord gave you grace for salvation to cover your sins and deliver you from the perils of torment. But He now expects you as Lord to follow Him and be holy unto Him.
“ Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)
I am not saying that you will or are immediately perfect or sinless. Because we all still fall short of God and even Paul dealt with the struggles of sin in the flesh. (Romans 7) But even Paul while struggling in his sin knew that he could not keep sinning and be in right relationship with God.
“[6:1] What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.  For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:1-14 ESV)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realize that the Lord desires for you to be in correct relationship with him and that in order for this to happen we must stop sinning and replace that sin with His presence in our lives. It is the only way we can become closer to him.
Lord, correct my character so I can see you faithfully and you can reveal your truth to me. Lord remove my sin from me so that I can walk more faithfully to you.
Quotes on Living Holy Lives
Spurgeon – “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”(read more here)
D.L. Moody – “Lord make me as holy as a sinner saved by grace can be”
Billy Graham – “holiness is God’s priority for our earthly lives. A disciple of Christ should always be careful not to place a higher value on being “happy” than on being holy. Yes, it gives our heavenly Father pleasure for us to have happiness, but not at the cost of our personal holiness.” (read more here)
John Brown – “Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”
AW Tozer – “The holy man is not one who cannot sin. A holy man is one who will not sin.
The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.
The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.
The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.
No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.”
What have you dedicated more time to this week? Your happiness or your holiness?
Do you have any scriptures or quotes that inspire you to be more holy in your walk with Christ? Post them as a comment for all to see.
2 John 1:7-13 ESV (Bold Added)
 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,  for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
 The children of your elect sister greet you.
As I have meditated on this and some of the other scriptures I have been reading in my devotional times, I have seen how important it is for believers to have a very proactive faith. I know that just about everyone who is a committed church attender will say “yes that’s true” or “I believe that.” After all most church going Christians have heard this message every Sunday as long as they have attended church.
So my question then becomes, why don’t we act on it more often?
I believe that sometimes this is credited to laziness but other times, it is simply because we don’t know where to start. Which is why I added an excerpt from the devotional below. Here the author outlines some great insight for people of all spiritual depths to get involved in God’s plan.
Connecting the Testaments Devotional (June 28th) Excerpt
John wanted the community to be aware of false teaching so they wouldn’t become confused or weakened in their faith. We, too, need to be intentional about the teaching we adhere to. If we are weak and troubled in our faith, we should seek out mature believers who can teach and minister to us. However, if we are confident in our faith, we should be ready and willing to share the message of salvation with those who need to hear it- both inside and outside our communities.
- Be intentional about knowing what you believe and how to articulate it.
- If you are going through a hard situation, seek solid Christian counsel from those around you and God the Father in prayer.
- If you are solid in your understanding and okay, seek others to minister to through sharing the Gospel or discipling a person younger in the faith. There are many out there who need help and we must step up to meet the need.
This week in one of the church’s Bible studies we were asked the question
“Why is hatred so serious a sin?”
And as I started to think through the answer of this I was brought to many different verses and ideas on why hate is such a serious issue in the believers life. I have outlined my findings below.
Hatred in the heart of God’s People is rebellion against God
(Lev 19:17-18 ESV) 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
We see that as far back as the Old Testament book of Leviticus that God was concerned about hatred in the heart of His people. In this passage God also contrasts hate with love as the mark of His people when He commands them to not harbor hate in their hearts but to Love their neighbors as themselves.
In the New Testament, Jesus confirms the love that is expected from God’s people when he explains the greatest commandment to the scribe in Mark 12: 28b-32.
(Mark 12: 28b-32 ESV) “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.
Throughout the entire Bible we are called as believers to love other people. Therefore, if we harbor hate in our hearts toward another, we are disobeying God’s direct command to love and not hate.
(1John 3:14-15 ESV) 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
John outlines hatred in our heart as a signal of our sinful nature and that the love for others is an indication of our relationship with Christ and evidence of the eternal life we have in him. We should also notice the strict condemnation of hate which results in murder and no eternal life.
(Matt 15:18-20) 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
Jesus outlines that our heart is the origin of our sin; it is what defiles us as believers. As outlined in the passage above, our hearts are the source for out hate through murder and other rebellious acts. We can see that hate comes from our heart as a result of our fallen nature separated from God.
Hatred in the Heart identifies you with the world
(Luke 6:22-23 ESV)  “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
(1 John 3:13 ESV)  Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
Jesus and John in these passages clearly describe the reaction of hate that the world will give to Christians based on their relationship with Christ. When it comes to the believer and the world we often see the characteristic of hate displayed in everyday life. Whether we are driving down the road, negotiating a business deal or trying to get through the grocery story, we see people act in hate toward one another intentionally and unintentionally. This is because our heart is naturally hateful and worldly.
In contrast to hate, the Scripture calls us to observe love in our lives.
(1 John 3:11 ESV)  For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
(John 13:35 ESV)  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 15:12-13 ESV)  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Over and over the Scriptures call us to unity, community and love in the name of Him who gave us grace. We are called to Love and to be Loving. This is an outward indication of our internal salvation.
If you are not practicing love but practicing hate, you are aligning with the world.
So back to the Question; Why is hatred such a serious sin?
1. Hatred is complete rebellion against God
Knowing the command of God to love and not practicing it is rebellion.
2. Hatred is the mark of our fallen nature
If you are a Christian and practicing hate, you are reverting back to your old nature. You have been made new in Christ. (2Cor.5:17) Walk in the newness of life and obey Him in loving your neighbor as yourself.
3. Hatred is not aligning with God’s will for your life but identifying with the World
As Christians we will be identified with Christ inasmuch as we have love for one another. Failing to love as Christ as loved us is contradictory to the very Spirit that He has placed within us.
I used to think that when most people venture into a new ministry they find it to be intimidating and overwhelming. This fear and anxiety hinders many from getting involved in ministry. And truthfully, I used to get frustrated with this mindset.
But as I have experienced more and more in ministry, I find that the long-term leader who is unfaithful to God’s will can do much more damage. Not only does the leader hinder his people by stifling their desires for reaching others but he is also calling God’s judgment on himself as a leader of God’s flock.
Ministry leaders, lets all agree to seek God for the vision He has for our ministry. Lets confirm that vision through His Word and cast that vision to the people we are leading.
This weekend at church, my pastor made a statement that spurred a million other thoughts in my spaghetti brain. He said, “no one can ruin your life without your permission.”
Now, in context, he was definitely talking about taking responsibility for your own choices and not playing the victim. In my context, however, my brain immediately clicked on this thought….
God cannot “ruin” my life unless I let Him.
I also thought immediately of the Jeff Johnson that I came to love deeply at a Falls Creek youth camp week years ago. You probably know the one, it goes like this:
Ruin my life, the plans that I’ve made.
Ruin desires for my own selfish gain.
Destroy the idols that have taken your place
Until its you alone I live for. You alone I live for!
What an amazing, exhilarating, scary, humbling, oh-my-goodness thought!
What if I am the only person truly standing in the way of God having his way with me. Of totally wrecking the plans I have made for myself in my limited, finite ability and knowledge. Instead He is so patient to await me realizing that my plans are okay, but His plans are exceedingly, abundantly, beyond,beyond what I could ever hope for or imagine. his plans are perfect.
So, like the prophet Isaiah, I hear you Lord asking “who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8). And my answer is, “here I am Lord! Send me.”