I have heard believers and even pastors criticize and dismiss the importance of a short-term missions trip. They make statements like, “It is not true missions, the missionaries put on their best show to entertain you when you come;” or “You could have taken all that money and sent it to the missionary and it would have been a much greater blessing.” Both of these statements have been directed to me at different times. This philosophy is completely Americanized and usually made by someone who has had very little exposure to the field. Some things money can’t buy. Allow me to explain.
Short-term mission trips have the ability to make a long-term impact. Our team will be able to go into St. Vincent with the funds and means necessary to make a huge impression on the island. The team will be able to go in and “take over” for a week giving the missioary and his family a much needed break and boost! We will have the opportunity to reach hundreds of children and we will be able to follow-up with them in the afternoons in their homes. If this alone does not put your questions to rest allow me to list some other reasons.
1. The team encourages their local church about missions. Before one trip, I had a deacon come to me and say, “I am so excited about your trip, it almost feels like the whole church is going with you.” In essence they were. They were backing the mission trip with their finances, prayers and encouragement. The trip gives a personal perception to the church at home and abroad that a check to a mission board just does not accomplish.
2. The team encourages the missionary. There is nothing more refreshing than true Biblical fellowship. Trips allow the missionaries t fellowship with friends of like faith without feeling like they must have their “guard up.” The team is also able to bring items like: peanut butter, candy, and in our case coffee, that are difficult for the missionary to purchase and gives them a “taste” of home.
3. The team edifies the body. The mission church is edified by guest speakers. Here in the states we have the opportunity to have in missionaries and evangelist every week if we so desire. Not on the field. We can minister by preaching and teaching God’s word as well as ministering in music.
4. The team enhances their knowledge of missions. Very rarely does one surrender to missions without the experience of a short-term mission trip. God has commanded us to be missional in our Jerusalem. Many times our hearts ignite for missions when we spend a short time in the uttermost.
5. Evangelism is commanded. We are commanded to go to take the gospel to the uttermost. What better way to fulfill this than going personally to a foreign country as an ambassador for Christ.
In Zechariah 3:8-10 Zechariah prophesied of the Heavenly High Priest who will reign over all. During this reign the Lord informs them that every man shall call “his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree (10).” In several places in the Old Testament, this phrase, “under his vine and under his fig tree” is used to denote a place of privilege bringing both safety and peace (1 Kings 4:25, 2 Kings 18:31, Micah 4:4, Joel 2:22). When the fig is mentioned in context of Israel it is a symbol of their national and governmental privilege and the vine represents their spiritual privileges.
In the New Testament Christ makes reference to the fig tree. The “fig-tree” is a fit emblem of Israel. “Its peculiarity is that the blossoms of the fruit appear before the leaves. Naturally, therefore, we should look for fruit on a tree in full leaf. This accounts for why Jesus cursed the fig-tree that had on it nothing but leaves (Matt. 21:18-20). The application of this incident to Israel is simple. Naturally Jesus from their “leafy profession” would expect to find fruit on the tree of their national life, and when He found none He cursed them for their HYPOCRISY (Matt. 23:1-33).” https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/larkin/dt/29.cfm
We can apply this to our lives by comparing Christ’s teaching in John 15. Here, Christ shows the significance of the fruit bearing process for believers. Scofield makes reference to this in his study Bible. He informs us there are “Three degrees in fruit-bearing: “Fruit,” John 15:2, “more fruit,” John 15:2, “much fruit,” John 15:5 John 15:8 . As we bear “much fruit” the Father is glorified in us. The minor moralities and graces of Christianity are often imitated, but never the ninefold “fruit” of Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:23 . Where such fruit is the Father glorified. The Pharisees were moral and intensely “religious,” but not one of them could say with Christ, “I have glorified thee on the earth” John 17:4 .” When others look at us do they see leaves, fruit, more fruit, or much fruit?
Zechariah was a prophet to the remnant who returned to their land after the 70 year captivity. Through Zechariah’s eight visions of the night God discloses how Israel’s foes will be destroyed, her idols removed, her city and Temple restored, and her Messiah revealed. Haggai and Zechariah labored together as prophets in the rebuilding of the temple, and tradition tells us they were buried in the same grave. In the first four chapters of Zechariah four different trees are mentioned. The first tree found is the Myrtle tree (1:10-11).
In Scripture the myrtle tree is always seen as a picture or sign of the millennial blessing for Israel. The branches of the Myrtle tree were used in the construction of the booths during the feast of tabernacles, which was a feast looking forward to the Millennium (Neh. 8:15). While speaking of the millennial kingdom Isaiah prophesied, “…instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree…(Is. 55:13).”
There are many unique patterns that form in the grain of the myrtle. Myrtle trees grow slowly, and the struggle or stress during the growth of the tree causes the patterns and unique figurations. When seen on a hill or in a pasture the mature myrtle is so symmetrical it would seem to be a carefully pruned, cultivated tree. As believers, we are going to face many struggles and encounter many long days that will seem as though God is silent. God is never late, inactive or not working. His “silence” means He is working in ways that cannot be seen in and around you. Like the myrtle, the final product will be one of maturity and beauty. All believers who have endured hardships, followed Christ, or have been through the pruning process have a Christ-likeness that those who have missed out on these “growing pains” do not possess.
I would like to start by thanking all the men and women who are currently giving all they have in order to protect our freedoms in the armed services. I would also like to say “Thank you” to all the family members who have lost loved ones while serving our country.
It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. “Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. On May 5, 1862, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month and named it Decoration Day. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.
Yesterday was a day of remembrance. In Luke 17:32 Christ called his listeners to a memorial as well. A remembrance, not of heroics but of a mistake. Jesus said, “Remember Lots wife.” There is nothing this world has to offer that should draw our attention away from Christ. Nothing that we possess should be able to hold us back from going forward in our service for God. Lots wife had a strong affection and love for the things her world had to offer, so much so, it cost her her life. How about you? May our life reflect the words of the great missionary Jim Elliott: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Back when our boys were two and three our sanity was continually being tried. It seemed every time we turned around they were into something. We have seen everything from using jelly as hair gel to coating the wood floors with Vics vapor rub to create their own skating rink. One morning as my wife was putting toys away she noticed some of the toys in the toy box were sticky. After further examination she found the whole bottle of syrup was confiscated out of the kitchen and poured over the toys in the toy box. I guess when you love something so much you want it everywhere you are! Our oldest son blamed it on his two year old brother (which was not unusual) and our two year old answered with the same response he does now at six when you ask him if he did something, “I don’t know.”
We are naturally inclined to enjoy the enigma of the last days. Theories of the anti-christ, seal judgments, and the rapture abound. I have a whole shelf dedicated to books that deal with the end times. The problem is we don’t know all the answers. We don’t know when the rapture will take place, or when the Antichrist will be revealed. We don’t know what is going to happen to America and how this country will fit in prophecy. We simply don’t have the answers…we don’t know!
The disciples were human just like us. They desired to know what the end was going to be like as well. Acts 1:6-8 records the disciples eschatological curiosity when they ask Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” But he commands them and us to “…Be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” I trust that we are not so caught up with what we don’t know, that we have set aside what we do know.
Ezekiel 10:4 says: “…And the house was full of the brightness of the LORD’s glory.” What is your house full of? It is amazing how much stuff we tend to collect over periods of time. Yard sales, Goodwill, and flea markets are simply traps used to make us think we need more stuff. There are houses that are nearly impossible to walk through because of the stuff that has taken over their living space.
Obviously, the Lord’s house is what is in context, but application can be made to our homes as well. God’s glory should shine forth in everything that goes on in our homes. Before you do anything you must ask yourself this question, “How will this glorify the Lord?” His glory should be the standard to which we base our decisions. If my parents are not fair and give me a difficult time, my response must be one that will glorify God. If my husband decides to take his anger issues verbally out on me, my response must be one that will glorify God. It is not always the easy route, but it is the right route!
As you continue reading in Ezekiel 10 it was through the glory of God that Ezekiel was able to see the famous wheel that has been sung about for centuries. If we can keep the glory of God central in our homes it will be through His glory that we will see Him lead and work in ways we could of never imagined!