I Cor.. 16:9 ‘For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’

November 30, 2011

News – Pastor Koenig, Mark Bohde and his son Carlton will be among the brethren in Myanmar for a seminar and visits. God-willing all the congregations will send representatives to Kalay. How pleasant and how fair for brothers to dwell together in unity.
Pray for Thailand
Mark Bohde and his son Carlton, when finishing work in Myanmar with the CLCM will be proceeding to Thailand to investigate possibilities of the resumption of work there. Pray for this success.
Most recently Mark and his family lived and served in Thailand from 1999-2005. It was in 2005 that they had to return stateside due to Mark’s deteriorating health. Many of us have been praying for his complete recovery.
Mark has written that his being able to sleep well is the last step in his recovery,
“This appears to be the last step in my complete recovery.  I thank the Lord, because it is my dream to return to Thailand and begin training.  I can only conclude that now is the right time according to God’s will. ”
Himalyan CLC Nepal reported the following:
“… We have pastoral meetings on a monthly basis and we are studying the different published books provided by the CLC and as well doctrinal essays. This year we have published Luther’s Small Catechism in Nepali and we have studied it through. The pastoral meetings were very interesting and informative for the men. Our pastors from remote villages come and study with us and it helps enrich their understandings of the work of the kingdom of God.
Sometimes we have pastors and leaders coming from the Tibetan border as well and we go there too to preach. It is very strict to preach in the Tibet land. We are praying and working though the results seem negligible because of the bondage and resistive heart of the people…Our pastoral meetings are arranged in locations like Kathmandu, Hetauda and Chitwan.
…Mission Helpers from the CLC visited 18 different locations and did a great job on child evangelism. Many children were blessed in this campaign and we are very happy to initiate this type of new program to different communities and people groups. Altogether more than 1500 children were evangelized. The team taught children from the Seven C’s – Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation…We have church conferences/seminars for the church leaders as well as the believers. Pastor JB mostly travels to different mission stations and leads the conferences…The conferences done this year were in these places: Kathmandu, Hetauda, Nijghad, Chitwan, Shaktikhor, Tatopani(near Tibet), Butwal, Dhading. Altogether in these conferences the participants exceeded 3000..

Laying on of Hands
Today when we ordain a man into the ministry we lay our hands on his head and pronounce a blessing. When we pray for people we lay our hands on their heads as we pray. These customs we use today come from the Bible. As we study this in the Bible we see that laying on of hands conveyed either, blessing, or authority or power.
In the Old Testament we see Jacob bestowing a blessing with his hands upon the heads of Ephraim and Manasseh. Gen. 48:14 When we pray today for God’s blessings on an individual we often put our hand on his head as Jacob did. In Num. 27:18-19 in the ordaining of Joshua by Moses to succeed him there is the laying on of Moses’ hand. So today in our ordination services.
In New Testament times some of the ‘laying on of hands’ clearly conferred power as shown in a variety of passages. The apostles were given power by our Lord as were some of the apostles’ followers. This was during the time when the Word was being given and this power accompanied the Word. It pointed to the Word as from God. Mk. 16:19, Heb. 2:2-3 Now that the Word has been completely given to us we should not expect any laying on of hands to convey power as in apostolic days.
  • Acts 8:18 “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands…”
  • Acts 19:6 “And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
  • Acts 28:8”…and Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.”
Also, in New Testament times the laying on of hands was a commissioning as with Moses and Joshua.
  • At Antioch in sending out Paul and Barnabas – Acts. 13:3 “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
  • In the Jerusalem congregation in commissioning the seven to their service – Acts 6:6 “These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.” It should be remembered that Stephen and Philip, two of the seven, also were given power.
  • 1 Tim. 4:14 “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you.”

There is no command for us to lay on hands, but it is a fine custom. Its symbolism is clear in that the blessing or gift of office comes from above as in the hand upon the head. Jesus gives us the example we can follow, “Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hand on them and pray…” Mt. 19:13

Encounters of a Spiritual Kind
In the following examples from Scripture we try to learn ways and attitudes which will better enable us to witness of our Lord to others. These examples are drawn from a casual perusal of the Gospels and Acts. It is by no means exhaustive. As with the basketball strategy of ‘one on one’ we are looking at examples of one witnessing to another individual. We are not considering what was said to individuals already in the faith, though that is applicable. We are not considering what was said to groups, though that also is applicable to a witnessing technique. We are considering these various situations where it is one on one and the one witnessed to was in unbelief.
Not all those individuals witnessed to then believed. But the point we consider is that they were witnessed to. We know God’s power and mercy. We know His Word will accomplish what He wills. Is.55 We should not be disturbed if some and even many do not believe when witnessed to. We know man’s stubborn and rebellious heart.
We should be disturbed though with ourselves if we do not make every effort to reach out with the Law and especially the Gospel that the Spirit may work. Our laziness, fears, indifference, and doubt may and do interfere so often. We are unprofitable servants and people of such little faith. Through these examples we seek to build ourselves up in our witnessing desire and ability.
The ultimate goal in all witnessing is to be like John the baptizer and point to Christ saying that He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. And while we try earnestly to develop our skills in this area, we don’t want to forget John’s motto of “He must increase, but I must decrease.” No matter what gifts we have and how we develop them we are looking not for glory for ourselves. We are looking to have a prospect join with us in glorifying our God.

Hungering and Thirsting after Righteousness – Lk.19:1-10

Certainly we all yearn to meet those people who hunger and thirst after righteousness. These are people who have sought the answers to life’s questions in all the wrong places and have found the answers either nonexistent or severely wanting where they looked. They have been brought to the point of not looking within themselves for the solution. They have a conscience that yet speaks to them so that they feel a guilt and even an emptiness.
Zacchaeus had certainly heard to his face and in whispers behind his back what a wicked man he was. This must have had, over a period of time, a crushing effect. Though he had power and wealth being a higher echelon tax gatherer, he was not looked up to. His own people generally despised him showing this in linking his office with the status of open sinners. How might the supreme Roman authorities view him? Doubtless in no better light. They knew the Jews and how they were. And the tax gatherer was looked on as a
lackey. Zacchaeus knew very well how many times he had abused his office and cheated in the gathering, as he later admits. To this man in this situation the Lord comes. We should not think that this was just an idle stroll of our Lord. Far from it, for our Lord wanted Zacchaeus to know His love, this one who was anything but loved by all around him. In this we should remember for ourselves that it is our Lord who likewise purposefully sends us. He puts us into situations in which we may show His love. He purposely gives us the opportunities along life’s way to reach out. Our Lord looks up into the tree purposely and speaks. He reaches out.
The Lord centers His attention on Zacchaeus. Kind attention is centered on one generally despised. Every soul is precious to our Lord. Our Lord came into the world to save sinners, and here was one very obvious one. The love of God is beyond our human imagination. Aren’t we supposed to be kind to those who are kind to us? Don’t we just do for those who would do for us? The love of God, on the contrary, means to pray for your worst enemy. The love of God means to return good for evil. The love of God means to pay attention to the unloved and despised. There are so many lost, afloat on a dark sea of life with no rudder and no oars. We come to them with the Gospel rudder and oars.
Beyond giving attention to Zacchaeus on the road, the Lord would go to his house (and this done with the obvious disapproval of others). Outreach is beyond the comprehension of the hypocritical world. Where just might we find ourselves at times to reach out with the Word?
The immediate reaction of this prospect was, “He made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.” By the demonstration of loving attention this prospect believed. “Today salvation has come to this house…” Zacchaeus shows that he repents and believes, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” He does better even than the law of restitution. Such is the power of the Gospel of the living Christ.
Not only was the Lord standing before him, but He was living in his heart. Although in this encounter there is not much recorded of what was said, yet we see the attitude of love that is a prerequisite for witnessing. We see also that the church of our Lord is not just for the outwardly upright. How many times haven’t you seen some bum or disreputable person and never dreamed of him sitting next to you in worship? Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. When we reach out to the despised of this world we pray that the attention we center on such will raise hope within his heart that he will listen to our words. And in this example we see what an attitude of love we must begin with.
Pastor Koenig