Becoming Citizens of Heaven

“And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.”  Mark 13:7

We’ve only lived in Thailand for about 7 years but the arguing in the government has been going on since we arrived.  Every 2-3 years, the fighting starts again.  According to the protesters, the cause of the fighting is always the same--“corruption”.  Half the citizens of Thailand hate Taksin and half of the citizens love him.  Half of the citizens love the way he thinks and half of the citizens hate the way he thinks.  

I’m not Thai and really have no right to express my opinion concerning the “right and wrong” of this fighting.  But, I am a Christian teacher, and as such, I have every right to express God’s opinion as He has revealed it in the Word of God.  Some Thai Christians will be surprised to find out that the Bible talks about the fighting in Thailand. But, the Bible clearly points out how God would like each Thai Christian to think.  Let’s look at a few specific verses to help Thai Christians:

Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1) You were born in Thailand, but you are citizens of Heaven.

I’m amazed at how quickly Thai Christians forget that they are citizens of God’s kingdom.  Jesus said that if a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand.  Is it possible that Satan is using politics in Thailand to separate the citizens of Heaven here on Earth?  As citizens of Heaven, there is only one thing that should control our thoughts and stir our hearts—The Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Mark 13:7-“ And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed.”

2) In a corrupt world, fighting is to be expected.

Mark is clearly reminding us that fighting, wars, and political problems should not alarm us.  These are things that are going to happen before the time that Christ will return for us.  As citizens of a Heavenly kingdom, we should realize that Jesus will soon return and our time to announce the Gospel is short.

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them.”

3) Life is not fair, but God’s Word is clear.

Life is not fair.  If you are waiting for a fair ruler, you will never find that person. You will never find a politician who isn’t corrupt.  You will never find a politician who doesn’t cheat.  You will never find a politician who doesn’t lie.  You will never find a human who won’t disappoint you.  If you are only willing to obey a perfect human leader, you will never find that person.

That is why you must turn to God and His Word for your answers.  He never lies.  He never cheats.  He’s never corrupt.  He will never disappoint you.  

The great question for Thai Christians today is this:  Which citizenship do you love and cherish more--Your citizenship here in Thailand or your citizenship in Heaven?  You can’t be 100% loyal to both.

The above article was written by Matt Jones, a Baptist missionary working in Surin, Thailand. You can find him online at www.jonesinthailand.blogspot.com/

 

“Redeem the Time” (Eph. 5:16) Doesn’t Mean What I Thought It Did

One of the things that frustrates me most is other people wasting my time.  My kids dawdle when we have to get our the door, and spill milk for me to clean up after I just told them to be careful.  The people whom I am supposed to meet at 10:00 decide to waltz in at 10:45 or 11:00 as if they are right on time. No apologies. No excuses. No nothing. Just smiles.  On a good day, I am able to take these things in stride.  But on a bad day, I am not always a pleasant person to be around.

Time is a valuable commodity and I only have so much of it.  I have stuff that I want to (need to!) do other than wait around for other people or clean up their preventable messes.  There are emails to respond to, books to read, lessons to prepare, laundry to hang, and a thousand other things on my to-do list.  But am I doing them?  No, I am sitting here waiting for someone who can’t be bother to show up on time.  I am looking for the stuffed toy that is now missing even though I told her to bring it to her room earlier before bed time.  

Bangkok Street Protests 2013

Those outside of Thailand may have seen in the news recently reports about massive street protests in Bangkok and wondered what it is all about. In this post, I want to give a super short summary of the background to this situation and provide some prayer points.

Timeline

2006

Prime Minister Taksin ousted in military coup, because Taksin was alleged to be corrupt.

2007-2013
After a year of military rule, the government has swapped back and forth between the party favorable to Taksin and the one opposed to him. The people not in power protest those who are, saying they are illegitimate. Also, Taksin was convicted of corruption, etc. by Thai court but he is not in the country. If he comes back, he goes straight to jail.

2013
Prime Minister Yinglack (Taksin's sister) and her party (puppets of Taksin?) try to pass amnesty bill to forgive all political transgressions since 2004 (which would let Taksin come home a free man). That triggers street protests against the amnesty bill.

 

Martin Luther’s Advice for Discouraged Preachers

I like preaching and I am convinced of its value and necessity, but I rarely find it easy.  Preaching is not for the faint of heart.  Preachers easily fall into the trap of being overly self-critical or self-congratulatory, comparing themselves with other preachers.  For those reasons and more, I found the following bit of advice from from Martin Luther both helpful and encouraging.  The excerpt below is from “Here I Stand”, Roland Bainton’s classic biography of Martin Luther.

"Luther was constantly repeating to himself the advice which he gave to a discouraged preacher who complained that preaching was a burden, his sermons were always short, and he might better have stayed in his former profession. Luther said to him:

Don't Wear Your Missionary Bifocals Upside Down

I was recently looking at an article in an old missionary periodical from 1912 and came across the following drawing.  I didn’t see any explanation of its meaning but it immediately struck me as a fantastic illustration of the relative importance that missionaries need to attach to issues and concerns on the foreign mission field and in their home country.

The Gospel Isn’t Just For Getting Saved

Far too many churches today neglect preaching the Gospel.  Well, maybe that is not quite accurate.  When it is time to do evangelism, they preach the good news that God will forgive all those who admit they are sinners and accept Christ.  But once the evangelistic talk is over, and people have come to faith, that message of sin and grace is tucked away in a drawer someplace until the next time that someone wants to do evangelism.  It seems that many Christians, especially pastors and Christian leaders, think that the Gospel is relevant for becoming a Christian, but not all that useful for living the Christian life.  Instead of making the Gospel the central theme of their preaching and worship, many churches neglect the Gospel in favor of moralistic pep talks, self-help tips, and shallow praise choruses.

“Come on,” someone may object, “how can you preach the Gospel every week?  That would be the same sermon over and over again.” If people have repented and turned to Christ, why bother going over the same talk about sin and grace again and again? They’ve got it already.  They became Christians.  It is time to go on to bigger and better things.  The Gospel and grace are fantastic for getting people in the door, in helping them to come to faith in Christ.  But once they are Christians already, they need something more than just a simple Gospel outline.  They need something that will motivate and inspire them to holy living.  They need something that will encourage them when life is difficult.  They need something practical for daily living.

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