What Are We Waiting For?

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One of the wisest Christian men I have ever known was my uncle Manuel. He once told me, “When God repeats Himself in the Bible, He means for you to pay special attention!” I have never forgotten this, and always try to see where God “repeats Himself.” One of the best examples of this is the Great Commission. The Great Commission is so important, Jesus gave it to us five times – Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:45-47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8. The Great Commission identifies our place in God’s plan: making Christ known to the nations.

            The apostles in Acts 1:8 could not fulfill the Great Commission right away; they had to wait on the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would empower the apostles to be witness in John 16:13-14: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Again in John 15:26-27:  “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (ESV). Once the apostles received the power (dunamis) of the Holy Spirit, they will be witnesses (martus) for Him according to the three-phase plan He has given them.
            We, however, do not have to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit for He is already present with believers. There is nothing withholding us from fulfilling the Great Commission in obedience to Jesus’ commands. There is no excuse for following the example of the servant in Luke 19:11-27 who buried his responsibility; we are to invest the Gospel with our neighbors and the nations that God might gain an increase. Today, we need only to become willing, useful, and obedient. We are called to sow the Gospel and reap the souls of men.
Although the apostles had to wait for the Holy Spirit, they obeyed what they could of Jesus commands; they went to Jerusalem to wait for empowerment through the Holy Spirit. Once He arrived, they followed the plan Jesus laid out in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (ESV).  His plan is still practical and possible today; we begin with Jerusalem (local, our home), then spread out to Judea and Samaria (regional, national), and then onward to the end of the earth (international). Did you know:
  • there are 1.365 billion people who have no access to the Gospel?
  • of the 6,800 various languages, 5,900 have no written Bible?
  • 86% of the world’s Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists do not know a Christian?
  • for more information visit joshuaproject.net or unreachedpeoplegroups.org
Every church has a responsibility to fulfill this command in some way. We should evangelize our local communities personally, volunteer for short-term mission trips, be open to God’s call to long-term missions, and give regularly to missionaries and missionary groups. What are we waiting for? 

Saint Patrick: Evangelist of the Emerald Isle

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What do you know about Saint Patrick? Did you know…

  • that the color first associated with Saint Patrick was blue?
  • that Saint Patrick was from England, not Ireland?
  • that Saint Patrick was a slave for six years?
  • that Saint Patrick was a devout Christian missionary?
  • that Saint Patrick was NOT a leprechaun? Ok, you probably knew that one…

Born somewhere on the main English Island (approximately 383 – 415 A.D.), Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders at 16 years old and enslaved by a warrior chief to feed pigs. Patrick was a Christian and prayed constantly during this time. After six years of enslavement, Patrick escaped and ran 200 miles to a harbor and sailed back to England. Only to be called by God to return as a missionary to Ireland. 
 Ireland was populated by pagans and barbarians. Patrick faced opposition by the druids, an religious group of men who practiced magic and were educated in matters of history and law. Opposed both by Druids and Arian priests, he planted orthodox churches and monasteries, mostly on the northern and western sides of the island. During his ministry Patrick wrote: “Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.” By the end of his life (493 A.D.), he was said to have baptized ten thousand, and planted over a hundred churches. Patrick strongly opposed slavery; having been a slave himself and having witnessed many of his Christian converts being abducted and sold as slaves. Within Patrick’s lifetime, the entire Irish slave trade had ended. 
There is much that is legendary about the life of Patrick and it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. One legend of Patrick is that on the night of Samhein (or Bealtine), when all fires were to be extinquished on the island, he lit a bonfire on a mountain in protest! Another legend explains the absence of snakes in Ireland by stating that Patrick drove away all the snakes, chasing them into the sea. Most notable of all is the shamrock legend. It is said that in order to explain the concept of the Trinity to the Irish pagans, Patrick used a three-leaf shamrock to illustrate God’s triune nature as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later, Christians identified the three leaves with the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13); and in the event you found a four-leaf clover, the fourth represents luck (hardly a Christian concept).
Many details of Patrick’s life are lost to us and we can’t be sure about some of the particulars. What we do know is that Patrick of Ireland was a courageous Christian missionary who followed God’s call to share Christ in a difficult, pagan culture. So if you want to celebrate in the true spirit of Saint Patrick of Ireland, take some time to tell your non-Christian friends and acquaintances about the unique, triune God of the Bible… and get rid of any snakes you may run across in the process.