God Working In You

We are given many encouragements in the scripture to make an effort to do the right thing.  Here are a few such encouragements.  2 Peter 1:5-11 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”  1 John 3:10 “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” Hebrews 13:16 “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Our works do not save us.  Salvation is a gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Our motivation for doing the right thing is the grace of God.  Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”  Because we appreciate the marvelous grace of God towards us, we will deny ungodliness and world lusts and we will live soberly, righteously, and godly.  We are also motivated by love to keep His commandments.  Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

While there is effort on your part to make good decisions, to live righteously and keep His commandments, you should not think that you do this all by yourself.  God is also working within you. Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” This passage encourages you to work out your salvation but it also describes how God works in you to will and do for His good pleasure.  You work and God works in you also.  Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

God’s power works in us and strengthens us. Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” The apostle Paul stated in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Our strength and power come from God.

God helps us to overcome.  He can deliver us from temptations. 2 Peter 2:9 “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.”  He can keep you from stumbling.  Jude 24-25 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” He can deliver us from the evil one.  Matthew 6:13 “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

God even supplies us with the ability to accomplish acts of service.  1 Peter 4:11 “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” God gives us everything so there is no room for boasting or pride.  1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” God is the source of everything and gives you the ability to be who you are; this fact should cause you to abandon pride in what you accomplish.

God wants to continue working in you and make you what He wants you to be.  Philippians 1:6 “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.” 1 Peter 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

I encourage you to appreciate the work that God is doing in you when you let Him work in your life.

As a Little Child

Matthew 18:2-4 “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” Jesus states that unless you are converted and become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Since I am confident that you want to be part of the kingdom of heaven, let us consider how you need to be converted and become as a little child.

There are some characteristics of children that we do not want to emulate.  For example, when a child throws a tantrum to get what he wants, that is not a good thing.  However, small children typically have some good characteristics that we should desire.  The first characteristic to consider is that they are dependent upon their parents.  Small children do not have the maturity, knowledge or physical ability to take care of themselves; they need their parents.  In the same way, we need to depend upon God, rather than upon ourselves. Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  One of the main reasons we pray to God is to request help for our needs.  Jesus criticized those who did not pray as they should.  Then He said in Matthew 6:8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”  The purpose of prayer is not to tell God what we need, because He already knows what we need.  We should pray to God in humility to express our dependence upon Him and request his help.  Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  We are also dependent upon God to show us how to live our lives and the direction we should take.  Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” We should be dependent upon God just as little children are dependent upon their parents.

Little children must be obedient to their parents.  Children have to be trained to develop good habits and the skills they need.  Children do not understand the dangers that surround them.  Do not run into the street; do not touch the hot stove; do not go with strangers.  Children need to learn to obey their parents because the parents are watching out for their good.  In the same way, we must obey the commandments of God because they also are for our good.  John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”  1 John 2:3-5 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”  We must keep the commandments of our heavenly Father just as little children must obey the commandments of their parents.

Little children are teachable and desire to emulate their parents.  We have probably all seen small children copying the actions and words of their parents.  They learn from the instruction and example of their parents.  In the same way, we follow the example of Jesus.  1 Peter 2:21-23 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”  Jesus gave us many teachings and examples to follow.  We must follow Jesus as little children follow the teaching and example of their parents.

Children want to grow up to be adults.  The apostle Peter encouraged us to be converted and desire the word so that we may grow spiritually.  1 Peter 2:1-3 “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”  The Word of God teaches us how we can grow and mature spiritually.

Little children typically are humble.  They know that they do not have the strength, the knowledge, and the ability to do the things that adults can do.  School teachers often like working with small children because they are humble and like sponges, soaking up knowledge.  1 Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  Perhaps this characteristic, more than any other, is how we must be converted and become like little children.  Jesus said in Matthew 18:4 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Perhaps there are other characteristics of little children that you can see that you need to emulate.  I encourage you to be converted and take on the appropriate characteristics of little children so that you can enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Timing of God

Many of the Christians who lived in the first century thought that Jesus was going to return within a few years – within their lifetime.  And yet, it has been almost 2000 years since Christ ascended into heaven after His death and resurrection and He still has not returned.  The apostle Peter anticipated this delay of Christ returning.  2 Peter 3:3-7 “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.  But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”  Peter warns us that unbelievers will say that Jesus really isn’t going to return; the earth and the people in it are going to continue on like they always have continued.  But Peter points to the time before the flood.  People then thought nothing was going to change but God chose to destroy the world with a great flood; people were unprepared and died in the flood.  In the same way, even though it seems that everything now is just going to continue as always, there is going to come a time when God will destroy the heavens and the earth with fire.

Then Peter makes us an appeal.  2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  Don’t forget that the Lord is not like you and me; we live less than 100 years here on the earth but God is eternal.  He has always been and will always be.  Time does not mean the same to God as it does to us.  If He waits a few thousand years before Christ returns, that is like a few days to Him.  He isn’t breaking His promises.  God is very patient and longsuffering with us.  He is not willing that anyone should perish but He wants to give everyone the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. What a loving and merciful God we have!

I think that all of us pray for God to help us in our time of need.  There are physical and spiritual things that we need in our life.  We want God to rescue us; we want Him to help us.  There is direction we seek for decisions we must make.  Sometimes we pray for other people.  We want help and answers right away.  But often God’s timing in answering prayers is different from our timing.  He doesn’t usually provide answers as quickly as we would like.

We must be patient as we wait for God.  Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.”  We must keep our hope for the fulfillment of His promises.  We must be patient in the tribulations that we must endure and not give up.  We need to continue steadfastly in prayer.  Keep praying and don’t stop.  Consider Luke 18:1-8 “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.   Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’   And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man,  yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said.   And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?   I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’”  Jesus taught us to keep praying for answers and not lose heart.

A key to understanding God’s timing is trust.  We must commit our way to the Lord and trust Him that He will fulfill His promises.  Psalm 37:5-9 “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.  Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret — it only causes harm.  For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”  Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Lamentation 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

God’s promises are sure.  He will answer your prayers.  Also, Jesus will return some day.  2 Peter 3:10-13 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.   Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”  I encourage you to be holy in conduct and godliness and wait patiently for the Lord.

Praise and Thanksgiving

God wants us to worship Him.  Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” We should desire to worship God because He created us, had mercy on us to save us, and will bless us now and forever.  One of the ways we worship God is to praise and thank Him for what He has done and is doing for us.  Hebrews 13:15 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

What should we praise God about?  First of all, we should praise Him for His creation.  He is the creator of all that we see and His creation is wonderful.  We can praise Him for the sun, moon, and stars and the vastness of the universe.  We can praise Him for the earth that supplies all that we need and for the sun that provides us warmth and energy.  We can praise Him for all of the trees and plants and for the beauty of flowers.  We can praise Him for the animals He created from the butterfly and all other insects, to the whale and other sea dwelling animals, to the horse and other land dwelling animals.  We can even praise Him for our human body that is crafted so that we can walk and sing and speak and see and hear and learn and worship Him.  I am sure you can think of many more things to praise God for His wonderful creation.

Then we should praise God for what He has done for us.  We can praise God for His great love, mercy, and grace that He has towards us.  Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  We can praise Him that He has chosen us to be His children and He is our loving Father.  1 John 3:1-2 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  We can even praise Him for the trials and testing and discipline that come into our lives because we know that He is using these to change us into the persons He wants us to be.  Romans 8:28-29. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  I am confident that you can think of many more things to praise God for what He has done for us.

In my mind, thanking God for what He has done for us is one way to praise Him. I hope you don’t forget to thank Him for His blessings.  Consider the story told in Luke 17:11-19 “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.  And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’  So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’  And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’”  We should be like the one who returned and with a loud voice glorified God, giving Him thanks.  We can thank God for the gift of His son.  2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” We can thank God for all of our material blessings to include housing, transportation, clothes and luxuries.  We can thank God for the food that we are given to eat.  We can thank God for the forgiveness of our sins and for the gift of eternal life.  We can thank God for loving brothers and sisters in Christ.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Again, I am confident that you can think of many things to thank God for what He has done for you.

How should we praise and thank God?  We can certainly include praise and thanks in our prayers that we send to Him; I believe that a goodly percentage of our prayers should be praise and thanksgiving.  The songs that we sing should include songs of praise and thanksgiving.  A hymn is a song of praise.  Ephesians 5:19-20 “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We can also include praise and thanks to God in the words that we speak to others.

There is so much that can be said about praising and thanking God.  There are many examples in the Bible of praise and thanksgiving, especially in the Psalms.  My encouragement to you is that your life be filled with praise and thanksgiving in your worship of God the Father.

In Exchange For Your Soul

Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul.’”

Jesus taught us the principles of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him.  Many choose not to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus.  They think that they are somehow saving their life when they don’t give their life to Jesus.  They think that they will be saving their life to do what they want to do, to follow life’s pleasures, and please themselves.  But Jesus said they will really be losing their life.  At the end of life’s pathway, they will discover that they have lost their life.  On the other hand, those who give their life to Jesus will really be finding their life.  It may look like they are giving up their life to follow Jesus, but at the end of life’s pathway, they will find life – eternal life.  The choice is before each of us.  What would you give in exchange for your soul or your life? 

Some would seek the wealth that is in the world.  Perhaps it is a nice car that is beautifully painted, very stylish, air conditioning, beautiful sound system, with lots of power.  Or maybe it is a large house with many rooms, filled with expensive furniture, an entertainment center and a swimming pool.  Or maybe it is fancy clothes to include all kinds of shoes.  Even if you had so much wealth that you were one of the richest persons on earth and could afford anything, would you choose wealth in exchange for your soul?  Others may seek worldly pleasures such as following their illicit sexual desires, or entertainment or alcohol or drugs.  Still others might choose power or fame.  And still others might choose companionship with a person or persons of the world. In looking around us, we see many who have pursued the things of this world in exchange for their soul.

We all want to be liked by the people around us.  Sometimes people put too great a value on what others think rather than on following Jesus and doing the things that He taught.  As a result, you might not confess your belief and discipleship to Christ before others.  This happened in the time of Jesus.  John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”  These chose to be accepted by others in exchange for their souls.

But it doesn’t have to be a lifetime of pursuing the things of this world.  It might be a moment of weakness that can have a lasting impact on your life.  Remember Esau who came in from the field weary and hungry and sold his birthright to his brother Jacob.  Hebrews 12:16-17 “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.”  Learn from Esau that you must guard against any moment of weakness where you might sell your birthright.

Most of us live where it is safe to be a follower of Jesus.  But there may come a time where our lives will be threatened because of our faith.  This certainly happened during the life of the apostles.  We read how that Herod killed James the brother of John and was seeking to kill Peter as well (Acts 12:1-3).  Later, it was prophesied that bad things would happen to the apostle Paul.  Paul’s friends tried to stop him from going to Jerusalem. Acts 21:13 “Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’”  There have been many times in the history of the Church when Christians have been killed for their faith.  Some of the martyrs willingly gave up their lives rather than deny Christ.  If someone were to threaten your life unless you denied Christ, would you choose to save your life in exchange for your eternal life?

The choices we make concerning our souls are really a matter of faith.  Do you believe that this life is all that there is or is there life after death?  Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”  By faith we believe that there is a supreme God and that there is a resurrection from the dead.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  By living for the things that are not seen and eternal, you will choose not to exchange anything for your soul.

My encouragement to you is to strengthen your faith and trust in the promise of eternal life.  Do not give anything in exchange for your eternal life and everlasting hope.

Report for March to July 2020

We all find ourselves in a very strange time in history.  There have been many disease disasters since the time of Jesus Christ, but the current one is a new, awkward, and potentially dangerous experience for us all.  Our trust and faith in God is very important for each of us during these troubling times.  The attacks on Christianity worldwide appear to increase daily.

Our Philippine brothers and sisters are experiencing similar but amplified situations.   The Philippine president has tried many approaches to slow the spread of the virus, but lacks the funds and resources to help his citizens that are without work or income and/or provide a reasonable level of health care.  Food is a scarcity may places at this time. The Philippines imports a good part of the rice they consume from Asia.  A few of the brothers that live in the country, do have gardens and those living in the mountains can plant rice/corn, weather permitting.

 The government has used the military to enforce lockdown orders and ban much of the public transportation and the independent drivers that drive/own the most common of mode (the jeepneys).  The government claims the vehicles are the ideal incubator for the virus. Some areas are seeing an easing of the government restrictions, while other areas are not.  A recent report shows a 16% shrinking of their economy…..therefore, making jobs hard to find for our members.

Many of the agricultural workers, shop owners, and vendors are out of work or greatly restricted in their movement and work.  The Philippine government declared last week on national news that they are out of emergency and food money to help the people.

Schools were going to be closed for the remainder of the year, and their educators were asked to hold classes on line. In many rural and remote areas, this is not going to happen since power and internet service is off and on, and computers are not items that many Philippines folks have.  We received several request from the members for computers and internet service, but, Ed and myself do not understand this is a good use of the Lord’s funds even if we had the funds.  Presently, many of the rural parts of the country have delayed school until June of 2021. Some of the larger cities/towns will proceed with online teaching in the upper grades.

In the months of March through July, we have sent more than $9,000 for food and seed  to various islands.  Our food/emergency funds are exhausted.  With the rainy season now upon the members there, our medical request to treat malaria, dengue, virus infection, and many other medical emergencies have been over $3300 the last 5 months.

August 14, 2020 Appeal— Brothers, we again are making an URGENT APPEAL for our brothers and their families in the Philippines.   Please, help us in this effort to provide food and emergency needs if you are able.  I realize that many of us are having to cut our spending with the restrictions we may be experiencing in the U.S., but if you or your congregation are able to donate, please make you check out to the Church of Christ and sent it to:

                Duane Cogburn

                86C  Martin Lane

                Moriarty, NM  87035

God can use perilous times for His purpose.  Many of the evangelists in the Philippine rural areas are able to gather the members and neighbors for assemblies and home bible studies.  We have reports of a total of 30 baptisms since May.

Again, we wish to thank each and every one that have contributed to the work in the Philippines. 

Below is a breakdown of the areas where funds were sent these last four months.  Currently we are working with more than 45 congregations on seven islands.

In March, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made:  Evangelists’ support $3459; Evangelism expenses $200; Building repair/rent, benches, bibles $100; Medical expenses $708; Food & Planting Seed $3,470; Storm damage & charity $165.

In April, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made:  Evangelists’ support $1.886;   Food $3,720;       Food & Planting Seed $3,720; Storm damage and Charity $50; Funerals  $204.

In May, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made:  Evangelists’ support $2,025; Evangelist expense  $352;    Medical expenses $994; Food & Planting Seed $560;  Storm damage & charity 100;  and Funeral  $200.

In June, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made:  Evangelists’ support $2,811; Evangelism  expenses $100;  Building repair/rent, benches, bibles  $408;  Medical expenses $726; Food & Planting Seed $400;  Storm damage & charity $706.

In July, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made:  Evangelists’ support $1,890; Evangelism  expenses $100;  Medical expenses $928; Food & Planting Seed $1008;  Storm damage & charity $1,481;  and Funeral  $152.

Respectfully submitted,

Duane Cogburn and Ed Anderson

I have attached a list of other requests that we haven’t been able to help since we consider the food needs and medical requests priorities.  If you would like to have your donation used for a particular request, please let us know

——————-

Below are excerpts from some of the many emails we receive from our brothers in the Philippines.  Some have been edited for brevity and so that their English can be better understood. E

Steven Curimao at Lawak, Luzon

Mon, Mar 30 at 5:32 PM

Dear Brethren,

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord, we trust the Lord that you are all well.

We are still in a enhance community quarantine due to covid19, my family and I are stock here in Pangasinan because of the situation, yet we are all fine.

Lawak Church of Christ, the brethren here is asking for help, they can’t go out to go to their work because of the quarantine to avoid the virus, the relief from our government is nothing yet, we have used our resources for the past days yet we still have more days in a quarantine, any kind of assistance is deeply appreciated brethren.

We are praying for everyone’s safety, we pray that this crisis be over soon.

I attached some pictures while we worship under the tree…

God bless you all.

Brother Steven

Below is some of the Lawak, Luzon congregation meeting outside,

Baptism at Lawak by Bro. Steven, May 11, 2020

Chris and Premie Amihay  at Colinog, Panay

To:edandva@hotmail.com    cogduane48@yahoo.com

Sat, May 9 at 11:56 PM

Dear Brother Edward and Duane

Thank you brother Edward for sending another encouragement  Thankful you are all doing well .I and my family are doing well too..Thanks for the prayer.We also pray for you safety..

The Enhance Community Quarantine  was again extended to May 30 due to many OFWs came home and there were positive of covid 19 in the city of Iloilo.

But despite of COVID -19,we  have  our assembly in our house .Our brethren in Badlan also having family assembly in their house . And also the Chiva”s family. We have total lockdown in Calinog every Sunday. The town officials are disinfecting the whole town every Sunday. This is good idea to prevent the spread of virus. The whole province are doing this every Sunday. So all people are not allowed to go out.

If the lockdown will be extended again, this is  not a good sign. Many people will suffer long time hunger..This is a problem now

The distribution of relief goods is very slow due to corruption…Many food packs being distributed…but only  few barangays are doing the good job.  Mostly none ,very slow.

Very sad to know …

We want to share this news our brother Edgar Libuna from Bliss site was confined at Calinog District Hospital last Wednesday.  He suffered from hard breathing and his half body could not move. We believed his half body was paralyzed and we don’t know yet his body condition.  Only one person allowed to visit the patient .Michael was there yesterday  and inform us his situation .

He is in need of cash assistance for his hospital need and medicine.We are hoping our brethren there in the US can assist our brother for his hospital needs …His  wife is having a problem od his husband.. 

Let us join in praying that this virus will gone away..

This is an invisible enemy….We need to stay home always to be safe .

We are glad to know that our brethren in Bacolod continue serving  out Lord in their house .We have  talk brother Joel Castillo last night and thankful they are  safe  and doing well.

We don’t have communications from our brethren at Don Salvador, maybe they don’t have cellphone.I was trying many times to contact their phone number but it was failed .Hoping they are all doing well.

I have to close now. May our Lord will bless and guide us and keep us all safe from virus.  

In His service,

Chris and Premie

jominan paulo   April 22, 2020

To:   Ed Anderson,  Duane Cogburn

Dear Brother Ed & Duane,

I always pray to God that you are in good and all the brethren in the US. I hope this pandemic that affect globally is end soon and I ask to always protect us.

My family and the brethren here in lubao greets you, We are all fine although some brethren they are not working but thank God that God truly good because they have people that gave their talent to share their blessing like you. Yesterday, I buy some can goods and rice for the brethren in lubao because the lockdown they extend until May 15 according to the Government.

My plan going to Isabela Lord willing is on June 25 -30 if possible to make this trip if the Lockdown are down by the President of the Philippine. I am sorry that the fare gave you is already used for buying foods, Milk, diaper and other necessities. Our bill in electricity is unpaid from march to april a total of 2, 652 php.

In behalf of sis. Emma Angangan and Bro. Fred Angangan I appeal to ask help for their needs because i heard that no one give help for them until the lockdown implement. Please, brother any amount from you is big help for their family. Also my family in Isabela they asking also for assistant. thank you so much if my request is put into your list.

Godbless,  Jominan

April 24, 2020

Good day brothers,

Galatians 6:10

[10]As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Another day of giving for the brethren. Vegetables , meat and fruits . We are able to share the blessings you gave us brother.

Thank you for your love and care to us. God bless.    Bro. Genesis

Bro. Genesis distributing food.

Godie  policarpio; June 16, 2020

Brother Duane and brother Ed,

God’s blessing of good health be with you as you read this message of mine. Bro. Daniel,  bro. Emmanuel, Jennmark and me, Visited the Brethren in Longos Cabangan, I am happy to inform you that they are all fine. I am so happy to inform you that Emmanuel is already recovered from covid19, he is in a quarantine for almost a month, thank you for all your prayers.

You are asking me about the overhaul cost of the van that we are using, the auto mechanics told me that it will cost around 60thousand pesos ($1,200 USD), that will include all, cost of labour and spare parts, it is too expensive. The mechanics told me that if it undergo overhauling it will became almost good as new. Thank you for asking and for the great concern to the needs of the Evangelist and of the church, the van is really big help to us. To transport the brethren to go to church. Thanks a lot brethren. Keep safe always.

Love and prayers,  GODOFREDO L. POLICARPIO

Mario Moral 

To:Duane Cogburn

Fri, Jul 3 at 7:18 PM

Hello brother Duane,

        I already got the money that you sent.  Thank you so much.  We will spend it to buy their weekly needs.

        Yesterday we have another 7 souls accepted the Lord in baptisms. Praying for their growth. 

Seven to be Baptized today.

Subic Bay, Luzon

Godie policarpio

Ed Anderson  Duane Cogburn

Thu, Apr 30 at 1:26 AM

Ever Dearest bro. Ed and Duane,

How are you? I hope that all is well with you. I am so sad that America have already 1million cases of Covid 19 and around 50 thousand plus deaths according to the news, on which I am always watching, as Social Studies teacher I need to be updated about the current Situation of the world.

I wrote you to let you know about what is happening here, I am really sad to say to you that Emmanuel Dumasig is already infected of Covid 19, the swab test result shows that he is positive, you know what? Bro. Emman is one of the Frontliners, he is serving the people of Subic, checking all the people that come and go to the market, that’s why he is very prone to the virus, last day he is in the hospital at Iba Zambales, but through his request he moved to Subic. Please pray also for his wife and chuldren. Even though we are ashamed to ask, I wrote you in his behalf because I knew that he really need financial help, any amount you should give is highly Appreciated. He needs it for his medication. Send it to his own bank account. I attached picture of the swab test result.

Brother Ed and Duane, I also wrote, for you to know that Central LuZon is still in the enhance community quarantine, that includes the whole province of Zambales, we already gave the brethren the relief goods Four Times because our brethren from other places also help. Many brethren also come into our house to ask help, I can’t resist not to help because during that time I have money, but right now I have only money to buy foods for 3 days, we have no salary yet, for this reason I am personally asking for your help. I and my wife is not qualified to receive help that comes from our government. Thank you in advance, I do believe that this pandemic will end soon, let us continue to pray together.

May the Lord God bless you and keep you,

Love and prayers,

Godofredo Lucero Policarpio.

Premie Amihay

To:   Ed Anderson   Duane Cogburn

Mon, Jun 29 at 7:30 AM

Dear brothers in Christ,

Brother Edward thank you for another encouragement lesson  It so sad to hear that  our sister  here in Calinog Janel Lavella was confined in the hospital due to Ectopic pregnancy.She is two months pregnant on their second child, their eldest daughter is 5 years old. She undergone ceasarean and was to remove the baby outside  her womb.We have given assitance but need more for her daily maintenace .Her husband is a casual worker in Calinog ,but stopped to work for  3 months due to home quarantine.She  needs to complete  her medicines daily.

Another sister  Kris Guillepa a sister in- Law of brother Erol also deliver her first baby and was operated .. The baby was in the ICU for one week.. They are also asking a little assistance for their medicines ….They find hard due to pandemic problem.

In this connection we are presenting this request asking for your kind donation for this two sisters.Maybe 200 dollars if you can share to these two  sisters .

Please include them  in your prayers..

Thanks and God bless you all.

In His service,

Chris and Premie

Steven Curimao  in Lawak, Luzon

Tue, Jul 28 at 10:34 AM

Dear Brethren,

Greetings in the Lord to all of you.

Lawak Church of Christ is able now to gather in the church building, we are now in modified community quarantine, the authority allowed us to gather as long  we observe the safety protocol they provide, we can also go out for evangelism yet we practice social distancing, the brethren are continually growing in faith.

Traveling to another province or city is now allowed but you need to provide necessary documents and a travel authorization.

Lord willing I will be going to Tarlac congregation this coming Sunday, I’m hoping that the authority there will allow us to gather.

I attached some photos for you to look; at, my son and nephew are continuing to serve the Lord’s church.

God’s grace be with you all.

Congregation at Lawak….. with social distancing,  When Ed and I made our first trip to the Philippines in 2014, only the blocks walls on this building existed.  The brothers/sisters have done a great job in finishing the building.  Most of the funds came from the U.S. to complete it.   Ed and Duane

Mario Moral <moralmario@yahoo.com>

To:

Duane Cogburn

Cc:

Ed Anderson

Fri, Jul 31 at 2:56 PM

Hello brotherDuane

BrotherEdward,

        We are so very thankful and so blest having a car because can also blest other. Most of the time we used our car as an Ambulance to brought church members be patient in Hospital for free travel.Last day we brought 3 patients in pain at Olongapo City Hospital. Since it it locked down we requested a travel pass to police station. And without a car we can have difficulty to brought patients in hospital. buses and jeepneys are very seldom to travel and it needs medical certificate before you ride.

Patricia Gatao, one of our young people has galstone  and she is really in pain

Romeo Abarre  is suspected to have a kidney stone problem. His face is getting bigger or swelling.he is now under observation and has medicines for one week.

 Marjorie Moral cant breath after she walk early in the morning.she was brought to Emergency Room with Romeo and Patricia. but Marjorie is now okey.except the two.

We spent some amount for benevolence for them in hospital from the money I have fir the family.but the remaining cash on my hand, We bought groceries s last budget for them this week of July because we bought grocery items for them every week

Mario distributing  food and diapers to widower.  His wife pasted away 2 months ago giving birth to their 6th child.

He and his two oldest children (not in the picture) have been baptized recently.        

Mario and his wife, Lorie, distributing food.  Mario teaches shaped note singing, and beating time every Tuesday night and post it on facebook.  He and several of the other evangelist have home and private studies 3 to 5 times a week.

Mario taking a few minutes for prayer before making an Ambulance run to Subic (about 45 miles away).  See text above.

His garden is in the background which helps the local brothers to eat and make a living selling produce.

Prophecies About Jesus

In the second letter written by the apostle Peter, he wanted to assure us that the story of Jesus and the gospel message was not a made up story.  He had seen all the things that Jesus did and heard the voice of God when they were upon the mountain of transfiguration.  But he wanted to give us additional assurance of what we believe by pointing to the prophesies that Jesus fulfilled. 2 Peter 1:19-21 “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  The holy prophets were moved by the Spirit to reveal future things hundreds of years before they happened.  Let us look at a few of the prophesies about Jesus.

The coming of Jesus was foretold.  First, He would be from the tribe of Judah.  Genesis 49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”  He would be born in Bethlehem.  Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” He would be born of a virgin.  Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” He would be the Son of God.  Psalms 2:7 “I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” He would be called God.  Isaiah 9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”  

The ministry of Jesus on earth was described.  He would be a prophet like Moses.  Moses said in Deuteronomy 18:15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”  He would come with a message of good news for salvation.  Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”  He would perform miracles to help people.  Isaiah 35:4-6 “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.’  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing.  For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”  He would be poor and have no outward beauty or splendor.  Isaiah 53:2 “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.  He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” He would be rejected by his own people.  Isaiah 53:3 “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” 

The death of Jesus was foretold.  He was to be betrayed by His own friend.  Psalms 41:9 “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and the betrayal money would be used to pay a potter. Zechariah 11:12-13 “Then I said to them, ‘If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.’ So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.  And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’ — that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter.” He would be persecuted and His friends would abandon Him.  Zechariah 13:7 “’Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones.”  He would suffer in silence and not retaliate or defend Himself.  Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”  He would die for the sins of the world.  Isaiah 53:5-6 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” He would be crucified and His clothes would be taken and gambled.    Psalms 22:14-18 “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; you have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones.  They look and stare at Me.  They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” He would be raised from the dead before His body decayed.  Psalm 16:10 “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

The prophesies about Jesus provide wonderful assurance that God the Father had a plan to send His son to the earth for our transgressions.  I leave it up to you to find the fulfillment of the prophesies.  However, I hope these prophesies encourage you and strengthen your faith.

Don’t Be Like Esau

In Hebrews the 12th Chapter, the writer is encouraging us to follow the example of the faithful who went before us.  He encourages us to be strong in faith and “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1b)  He continues in Hebrews 12:15-17 “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.”

“Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.”  Perhaps the picture is of a group of travelers traveling together towards a distant city.  As Christians, we are those travelers, traveling through life with our common goal of eternal life as promised by Jesus.  But if one gets distracted by the things of this world and turns away from God, he will not reach that heavenly goal.  He will fall short of the grace of God.

“Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”  To the Israelites, any plant that was bitter was poisonous.  Perhaps this is referring to anything that would poison us and defile us so that we would lose our life – our eternal life.  Giving place to un-repented sin could be a bitter, poisonous element in your life.

Then the Hebrew writer gives the example of Esau, the grandson of Abraham.  Abraham’s son was Isaac and Isaac married Rebekah.  Rebekah gave birth to twins.  Genesis 25:24-26 “So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.  And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.  Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.”  As the two brothers grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter in the field, but Jacob stayed in the tents.  Genesis 25:29-34 “Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.  And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom.  But Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright as of this day.’ And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’  Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’  So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.  And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”  The birthright belonged to the oldest son.  He was expected to take over the family business when his father died and he was to receive twice the inheritance from the father as opposed to the inheritance that the second born son received.  Obviously the birthright was a very important right of the oldest son.  However, when Esau came in from the field and was hungry, he chose to value a meal of bread and lentils over the birthright.  When Isaac was about to die, he wanted to bless his son Esau.  Jacob deceived his father and received Isaac’s blessing instead; Esau did not receive his father’s blessing.  You can read about this in Genesis 27.

The writer of Hebrews warns us about Esau’s attitude.  “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.”  The warning is that you can sell your right to the inheritance you receive from God.  You can sell it for something small and temporary just like Esau sold his birthright for a meal.  Perhaps the writer is suggesting that someone might be tempted to commit fornication or adultery – to enjoy just a few moments of illicit sexual pleasure.  Or it could be some other act of wickedness or sin that one might allow himself to enjoy, going against his dedication to God.  The point is that you might sell your birthright, just like Esau, for a momentary pleasure or desire.  “For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.”

Instead of following sin and suffering the consequences, you need to be like Moses.  Hebrews 11:24-26 “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”  Moses chose to deny himself the passing pleasures of sin and instead chose to suffer with the people of God because he was looking for the reward.

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’”  I encourage you not to fall short of the grace of God.  I encourage you not to let any root of bitterness defile you.  I encourage you not to sell your birthright like Esau.  Instead, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.

The Parable of the Talents

Jesus gave us what is known as the parable of the talents.  Matthew 25:14-30 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’  But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Let us apply this parable to ourselves and learn from it.  The lord of the parable would be God or possibly Jesus.  You and I are His servants.  In the story, the talents were large amounts of money given to the servants based upon their ability.  You and I are also given many gifts from God.  James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” He gives to each of us as He sees fit.  You should not look at someone else and feel bad that He has given them more or be proud in what He has given you.  1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  Everything comes from God. He gives to us as He decides. 

Whether the gifts from God to you are large or small, you are expected to use them for His benefit and glory.  Consider the gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”  The gift of prophesy is to proclaim the truths of God; it may include seeing the shortcomings and proclaiming the necessity of repentance like the prophets of old. The next gift is ministry or service.  There are people today with the gift of service; they excel in service to others and they enjoy serving.  Then there is teaching.  Some people have the gift to teach others the principles and commands and truths of God in a way that is interesting and understandable.  Next, there are those who are exhorters.  They encourage others to be the people they need to be.  Next are the givers – those who see the needs of others and liberally give of what they have to meet the needs.  Next are the leaders; they are those who take charge and show the way to go.  Finally, there are the merciful.  They see the pain or weaknesses in other people’s lives and offer mercy and comfort.  Do you see yourself as a receiver of one of these gifts from God?   Or perhaps there is some other area in your life that God has given you an ability or resource that you can use in service to others and to Him.  Perhaps you think you have no ability or resources. If nothing else, you have been given the ability to pray to God on behalf of others. Whatever gift you have been given, don’t neglect to use your gift. 

The faithful servants were the ones who took what the lord gave them and made a profit for the Him.   They received praise from the master – “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  They received gracious promises and glory – “You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”  If you use what God has given you for His profit, you also will be given praise, promises and glory.

The unfaithful servant was unthankful, idle, afraid, and misjudged his master. As a result, he was reproached – “You wicked and lazy servant.”  He was stripped of what he possessed and banished from the presence of the Lord – “Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” What have you received from the Lord? Are you useful to him according to your ability?

People of slender abilities may often do more good in the world than people of much greater talents. A humble Christian, by his life, example, and conversation, may often do much more good than is done by those in more elevated stations and with far greater gifts.  My encouragement is that you use whatever gifts God has given you for His glory.

What Peter Saw

The apostle Peter was selected by Jesus to be one of His disciples. Even though Jesus had many disciples and only twelve apostles, there was an even smaller group of three individuals to whom Jesus gave special attention.  This group consisted of Peter, James and John.  From the time Jesus selected Peter, he was constantly with the Lord until His death and resurrection.  Peter saw all that Jesus did during His ministry on the earth.  Let us look at a few of the things that Peter saw.

Peter went with Jesus up on a high mountain.  Matthew 17:1-8 “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’  While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’   When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”  Peter saw Jesus transfigured so that his face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light.  Peter heard the voice of God from the bright cloud.

Peter was in a boat on the sea with the other apostles and without Jesus.  Matthew 14:25-33 “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’  And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’  So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’”  Peter saw Jesus walk on the water and he also walked on the water to go to Jesus.

I do not have enough space to describe all the things that Peter saw and experienced while following Jesus.  Peter saw people raised from the dead; he saw many that were sick, blind, deaf, and with evil spirits healed by Jesus.  He saw food multiplied to feed a great multitude.  He heard all that Jesus taught.  He also saw Jesus arrested, tried, and condemned to die.  He saw Jesus nailed to a cross.  While Jesus was on the cross, he saw that there was darkness over the earth for three hours.  When Jesus died, Peter felt the great earthquake.  Peter also saw that the tomb of Jesus was empty on the first day of the week.  He saw the resurrected Jesus and saw the crucifixion wounds He received.  Peter was also with Jesus when He left the earth.  Acts 1:9-11 “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”  Peter saw Jesus ascend into heaven.

After the Kingdom of God came on the day of Pentecost, Peter was one of the chief spokesmen of the church.  When Peter and John were arrested by the Sanhedrin Council, Peter was not shy. Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  Is it any wonder why Peter was bold in proclaiming the gospel?  Peter went on to give his whole life for Jesus.  Here is what Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16-18 “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”  Peter and the other apostles did not follow cunningly devised fables when they told others about Jesus.  Based upon what he had seen and experienced, Peter were thoroughly convinced that he had been with the very Son of God.

On the day that Jesus was resurrected, the apostle Thomas missed seeing Jesus and as a result, he did not believe.  John 20:26-29 “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’  Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’  And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’  Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”  You have not seen Jesus.  You have not experience the things that Peter experienced. But what we know about Jesus are not cunningly devised fables, but the truth.  I encourage you to truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and be His faithful disciple.