Uncategorized

No Sacrifice Too Great!

Wheat Harvest 1Cynde and I arrived safely in Cambodia after a seven-week visit to the United States.  Probably the best we’ve had, as we spent almost all of the time with family and friends – hardly any work!  In fact, yesterday Cynde spent 5 hours catching up on her emails!  This morning I finished my 60-minute bicycle ride from 5:30 AM – 6:30 AM listening to the live recording of New Life Fellowship’s Life Band.  You can download the English Version of  “Jesus” on iTunes.

“Weather Bug” said yesterday at 6 PM the temperature was 85 degrees  F (29 c), “feels like 95 degrees (35 c).  70% humidity.  Thanks Weatherbug for telling me why I’ve been sweating since 6 am!

This morning I take my 250 cc motorcycle to Samrong Yong, about an hour SE of Phnom Penh to visit a pastor and check out his new kindergarten.  I’m taking my raincoat as it poured yesterday.  If it rains I’ll pull off to the side and engage a Cambodian in conversation.  Maybe I’ll get to explain the Good News of the One Creator God to them for the first time!  After that I have lunch with the pastor and two other nearby pastors – all converts through and part of New Life Fellowship of Churches Cambodia.  They’ll  cook a delicious Cambodian lunch for me and they’ll share what God is doing through their ministries and I’ll offer any advice I can as a pastor myself and spiritual father.  After that I’ll visit one of our premier churches nearby and the director of our Takeo Fellowship of Churches to discuss our Takeo Region creating strategic plans and goals for 2015 at their next regional meeting.  Their plans and goals will determine how we in Phnom Penh can help them.

This Friday I make the long drive up to Poi Pet (8 hours).  The road is not that great, but I’ve driven on worse.  I’m taking a young missionary from the Republic of Texas who has been working with us along with me – Zach Parish.  Eight hours of fellowship, sharing and mentoring.  What an opportunity!  When we arrive in Poi Pet my priority is to spend time with Pastor Vearia and his wife Lekhena and their two children to encourage him and advise him in any way I can. I’ll also tag along on their weekend outreaches to several villages within the city of Poi Pet, join the Youth Meeting on Saturday night and preach Sunday morning and Sunday night.  I hope to spend all day Monday with them and return to Phnom Penh Tuesday morning.

In about two weeks I’ll make the long trip to Rith-Sen Victory Village, Strung Treng Province, 6 km from the Laotian Border.  I’ll pick up one of our pastors in Kratie province along the way and take him with me.  I cringe at the thought of the long trip on absolutely terrible roads.  Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the trip to lend support to a young man and his wife who moved from Poi Pet to become the lead man for a plantation.  He is not a pastor nor really even a Christian leader, but he has a passion to reach his “sphere of influence” with the Gospel that sets them free.  This is the same passion that drives all of our New Life Fellowship of Church pastors and leaders.

It’s hot in Cambodia.  The roads are terrible…but the harvest is ripe!  There is no sacrifice to great for me to spend my life to help establish the Kingdom of God in the Kingdom of Cambodia.  Let me say that again: THERE IS NO SACRIFICE TOO BIG FOR ANY OF US TO DO WHAT GOD HAS CALLED US TO DO.  I count it a privilege to be alive to serve God’s purposes in my generation.

Cynde and I spent 5 years in Yuba City, California – a break after 12 years in Cambodia.  When my son, Jesse McCaul, called us and asked us to return and help him I remember riding my bicycle along the country roads among the rice fields of Yuba City and praying.  I had made a list of what we needed to return:  A laptop computer, a smart phone, a car, a motorcycle, access to internet at our home and several other items.  As I was riding and praying I felt the Lord ask me, “So you need all of this to do what I’ve called you to do?  And if you don’t have all of this you won’t go?” I stopped my bicycle, got down on my knees and cried and asked forgiveness and told God, “Lord, I’ll do whatever You want me to do, regardless of the resources I have or don’t have.”  This is the same prayer I prayed in 1994 – “Lord, I’ll go anywhere and do anything you want me to do.”  Less than a year later I was in Cambodia with my wife and four children.

God has given me everything I thought I needed and more!  I thank God every day for Patricia King and XP Ministries who purchased a beautiful Toyota 4-wheel drive for me to make these trips.  I thank God every day for people who financially support me and Cynde to represent the God of the Universe in Cambodia and elsewhere (we were just invited this past week to help plant a church in Sri Lanka next year).  I thank God daily for the people who contribute financially to the ministry of New Life Fellowship of Churches to we can continue to evangelize, make disciples, train leaders and plant more churches in Cambodia and send Cambodians as missionaries to other countries.

Please pray for us in the following ways:

  1. Cynde and I have wisdom to impart to those who look to us as mentors, advisors and spiritual father and mother.
  2. A new release of the prophetic, words of wisdom and words of knowledge and healing through us.
  3. Wisdom and guidance as we are now in the mode of budgeting and planning for 2015.

As we come to the end of this year, please consider making a special contribution to New Life Fellowship of Churches:

  • Our Phnom Penh-based staff are coming to an end to our budget for traveling to provincial villages to support our leaders.
  • Sponsorship for more Children at Risk.
  • I have several more books I need to write, get translated and published to benefit Christians and leaders in Cambodia.

My prayer is that you, too, will not consider anything too great a sacrifice to reach your sphere of influence for the Kingdom of God.

Blessings,

Chuck and Cynde McCaul

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Personal Development

Understanding the Sovereignty of God, 3

Tiny FrogImplications of the Sovereignty of God

I’ve attempted to make clear the fact that God is not haphazardly ordering the events of the universe, nor is he frantically attempting to hold his plan together and overcome the schemes of the devil.  God is in control of all events and will intervene as he wills to work out his will and purpose.  As a result of these truths, it ought to affect the Christian in the following ways:

  1. I can accept circumstances, however difficult they may be to understand, as ultimately from the hand of God.
“But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”   Genesis 50:19-20
  1. I can rest in the fact that God is in control and he will be praised by the wrath and evil intentions of man.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28
  1. I have no need to fear, for God knows all about me – my needs, fears, hopes, and hurts.
“But now, this is what the LORD says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.  Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.  Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.  I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”    Isaiah 43:1-7
  1. I have no need to worry for God is in control of all the events in the universe, the world, and my life.
“Be silent before me, you islands! Let the nations renew their strength! Let them come forward and speak; let us meet together at the place of judgment.  “Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.  He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before.  Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD – with the first of them and with the last – I am he.”       Isaiah 41:1-4
  1. God will grant me whatever grace is necessary to cooperate with his plan for my life.
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”   2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Conclusion

If we do not believe in the sovereignty of God as it is declared in the Bible, then we and everything else are in the hands of blindly operating causes or an evil being intent on destroying everything.  Sovereignty teaches that an infinitely wise and powerful God is everywhere present and is controlling all events, great and small, in a way which is perfectly consistent with the nature of his creatures and is causing all things to serve and accomplish his will.  Praise God for his might, power, and excellence!

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Personal Development

Understanding the Sovereignty of God, 2

j0433132The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Men

If God is sovereign over all the acts and destinies of men, does that mean he causes sin and wickedness to occur?  There are some things in the Bible that are not absolutely clear.  When I come across something that confuses me or which I don’t fully understand I don’t allow it to shake my faith.  I return to what I do know is true.  That’s why it’s so important to understand the characteristics  and attributes of God.    What do we know?

  1. We know that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present.

This means that by God’s very nature he knows the end from the beginning.  He knows what a person’s life will be like because he’s already there.  He’s in the eternal present.  Although God knows what a person’s life will be like, and he has a specific plan for them, it doesn’t mean that God will force his plan on them.  He will do everything he can to influence that person, but each individual must make a personal choice to do God’s will.  It also means that nothing will ever get out of his control.  There’s no such thing as an accident with God. The word “oops” isn’t in his vocabulary.  Although God is all-powerful, it doesn’t mean that he will compel a person to do one thing or another.  It means that whatever happens, God has the power to turn it around to work out his purposes.

  1. We know that God is kind, merciful, loving, and desires good for his creation.

This means that God cannot do any evil.  He does not cause sin nor condone sin.  Sin does not come forth from him, nor is he responsible for it.

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”   James 1:13

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”   1 John 1:5

“For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”   1 John 2:16
  1. We know that God is just and righteous.

We know that God doesn’t cheat, twist the rules, abuse people or take advantage of them.  Whatever he does – whether we fully understand it or not – is right and just.  He has done the right thing and he will do the right thing.

You see, the important thing is to know God.  When you know God you can trust him.  When you know God you know his gentle, loving, and wise nature and you can trust him with the difficult questions of life.

Now to answer the question, “How does the sovereignty of God harmonize with the free will of men and their sinful acts” let’s consider the following:

God sometimes permits sin to take its course.

This is called Permissive Providence.  God does not intervene in every circumstance at every moment.  Sometimes God will allow sin to be fulfilled because it will accomplish his purposes.

“Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!”   Hosea 4:17

“In the past, he let all nations go their own way.”   Acts 14:16

“But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.”   2 Chronicles 32:31

“So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.”   Psalm 81:12

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their  bodies with one another.”   Romans 1:24

Take for example the alcoholic that is always running from God.  God may not always intervene for the person.  He may allow him to squander all his money and wreck his body so that he will ultimately turn to God.  God is not at fault for not intervening, he is simply allowing sin to takes its course in order to ultimately work things out for good.  What about the alcoholic’s family who has to suffer with him?  God extends grace to them.  He will show himself strong on their behalf and give them the spiritual, emotional, and physical strength to continue on if they only look to him.

God will sometimes allow sin to take its course in order to bring judgment on a person.  This may be the case with a homosexual who denies God and blatantly resists him.  God will work in that person’s life in order to bring him to himself, but he may ultimately release him to his sinful desires and allow his sin to bring judgment on him – loneliness, bitterness, anger, sexually transmitted diseases, and ultimately death.  The person has chosen his course and has rejected God.  God has simply given him the desires of his heart and allowed him to experience the results.

So God will sometimes permit sin to take its course, but will use its circumstances to fulfill his purposes.

  1. God allows evil, but directs the way it goes.

This is called Directive Providence.  As mentioned above, God may allow evil, but he will direct its course to accomplish his ultimate purposes.  God will allow men’s evil intentions to be exercised, but will take the bad that man has done and direct it to fulfill his purposes.  Consider the following Scriptures:

“At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.  But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”   Matthew 26:55-56

“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.”   John 19:23-24

The people who crucified Jesus were evil people and each one will have to stand before God for his or her sin.  Nevertheless, God allowed these evil people to fulfill the evil of their hearts while at the same time using them to accomplish his purposes – crucifying Jesus so his death would pay for our sins.  In the same way people may mistreat us in many ways.  God may stop some from mistreating us, but on the other hand, he may not stop them.  Whatever he chooses to do it’s important for us to stay obedient and submissive to him because he will take the good and the bad and direct it to fulfill his purposes in our lives.

  1. God determines the limits of evil.

This is called Restrictive Providence.  As in the case of Job, God will only allow evil to go as far as he wants it to go.

“The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”  The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”   Job 1:12; 2:6

Satan would desire to totally annihilate Job – and us – but God restricts evil.  The problem is that we seldom agree with God on how much we can take!  God knows our limits and potential.  We may think that we can’t take any more, but God says, “My grace is available for you.  Keep close to me and I’ll walk you through it.”  Consider this promise:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”   1 Corinthians 10:13

The wonderful promise of this verse is that no matter how difficult things may seem, God is in control of the circumstances.  If Satan is attacking us, he is limited to the leash which God has placed on him.  And God knows how much we can take, and will provide us with the grace to overcome.  Praise the Lord!

All the evil acts of the creature are under the complete control of God.  They can occur only by his permission, and only insofar as he permits them.  Though they are evil in themselves, he overrules them for the good.  The fact that God has turned evil into good ought to induce his children to trust him to do the same with the evil of the present generation.

In summary, let’s review how the free will of man relates to the sovereignty of God:

  1. Sometimes God allows man to do as he pleases.
  1. Sometimes God keeps man from doing what he would do.
  1. God always overrules what man does in order to accomplish his own purposes.
  1. Just because God knows what will happen and how people will respond and what they will do doesn’t mean he causes it to happen.
  • Free actions do not take place because they are foreseen, they are foreseen because they will take place.
  • Just because something morally evil is predicted, this prediction doesn’t remove the human responsibility from the person.
  1. Man’s will is free to choose or reject God, but God can over-ride man’s decisions and cause them to work out for God’s good.
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Uncategorized

Understanding the Sovereignty of God, 1

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“OUR INFINITELY WISE AND POWERFUL GOD IS EVERYWHERE PRESENT, IN ALL OF TIME, ORCHESTRATING ALL EVENTS, GREAT AND SMALL, TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSE, YET WITHOUT VIOLATING THE FREE WILL OF ANYONE.”

In our past two lessons we’ve briefly examined what God is like – his attributes and the characteristics by which he has revealed himself.  We’ve discovered that by understanding more about God’s nature we can develop a sense of peace, assurance, and confidence in our relationship with him.  Understanding what God is like also provides a foundation for sincere worship and service to him.  In this lesson we want to explore how God works.

People often don’t understand the degree to which God is involved in the affairs of their life, history, and world events.  Some might assume that God has created the worlds, set time and mankind on their course, and went on vacation, or casually observes what is going on from his throne in heaven.  Some might assume that God is frantically trying to pull together an army of believers because Satan and his host are just about to take over and thwart his plan and purpose.

In this lesson we will affirm that God is sovereign over all the universe and its inhabitants and that he is continually working behind the scenes to accomplish his will and purpose.  We will discuss how God does this and what it means to us.

The Sovereignty of God:  It’s Scope

It’s important for us to know that the events in life are not happenstance. God is intricately weaving within the affairs of man a strategy to accomplish his will in the life of the believer, the church, and the world. As we shall see, knowing that God is in control brings great assurance in times of adversity and times of prosperity.

God’s sovereignty may be defined in the following way:

Our infinitely wise and powerful God is everywhere present, in all of time, orchestrating all events, great and small, to accomplish his purpose, yet without violating the free will of anyone.

Consider what the Bible says about God’s influence in the following areas:

God is sovereign over the physical universe.

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”   Matthew 5:45

“Lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding.”   Psalm 148:8

“Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm.”   Job 38:25

These are just a small sampling of the verses that declare that God is involved in what takes place in the physical universe.  God has set up laws by which the sun, moon, stars and elements of the universe and earth operate, but he is the one who holds it all together and at times chooses to intervene either to cause something to happen or to stop something from happening.

We have evidence in the Scriptures that God at times caused a famine, storm, or earthquake.  This can be seen in ten plagues he brought against Egypt through Moses.  At other times he may have known that a physical event was going to occur and he orchestrated events to coincide with what he foreknew to be going to happen.

God is also sovereign over plant and animal life.

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”   Job 12:10

 “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”   Jonah 1:17

It is God who gives life to all animals and mankind.  God can use animals to accomplish his will and purpose such as directing a great fish to swallow Jonah, or sending pheasants to provide meat for Israel, or serpents to bite them.

What we can learn from this is that not all natural events are natural events!  God is at times directly influencing physical activities and plant and animal life to accomplish his overall purpose for the world, a nation, or a person.

God is sovereign over the nations of the earth.

“For dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.”   Psalm 22:28

You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”   Daniel 4:25

“Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!  I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.”   Isaiah 10:5-6

One of the most interesting aspects of the sovereignty of God is that God is at work in the nations of the earth.  The Scriptures emphatically declare that God uses nations, tribes, and people groups to accomplish his will.  God raised up nations such as Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt to execute judgment on Israel and Judah while they were in rebellion against him.  God’s intention was for these nations to respond to him and acknowledge him as Savior.  Most didn’t, therefore, God eventually brought judgment on them as well.

As we shall see, there are times when God directly influences a national leader or group of people to do a specific thing he wants accomplished, and at other times he allows them to fulfill the intent of their hearts, but uses what they have initiated themselves to accomplish his will and purpose.

God is sovereign over each man’s existence.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”   Psalm 139:16

“Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”    John 21:19

“The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.”

Exodus 12:36

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”   Proverbs 16:33

God knew you before you were born.  He knew what your physical frame would be like – the color of your hair, eyes, height, and any physical weaknesses or strengths.  Because of his omniscience he knows your future.  He has a path which he desires for you to walk in.  In fact, the Bible seems to indicate that God has a book of your life which includes his perfect plan for you and how you will respond to that plan.

The Bible teaches that there are no accidents with God.  He is sovereign over each person’s birth, career, and death.  He is sovereign over the successes and failures of each person and even the most trivial circumstances, such as the people you are introduced to in life, the teachers you have, the churches you attend.  Take for example the King of Persia:

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.”  Esther 6:1

It just so happened that the scribe opened to the very section which recorded how Mordecai saved the king’s life.  As a result, Mordecai was honored and ultimately the entire Jewish race saved from annihilation.  The scribe could have opened to any section of the records of the king, but God directed him to this section because it would fulfill his ultimate purposes.  God didn’t force the man to obey him, but he must have planted the thought in his mind to open to a certain section and the man responded – and he wasn’t even a believer in Yaweh!

While God does not violate the free-will choice of any person, nevertheless, he is behind the scenes planting suggestions in people’s minds, influencing them to do one thing or another in order for them to fulfill his ultimate purposes.

Satan is not in control of the events of this world or your life.  God is in control, and is wisely, carefully, and systematically accomplishing his purposes in the earth.  As we shall see, God will even take the evil intentions of a person and cause them to work out for our good and his purposes.

This should do two things for us:

  1. It should make us very attentive to what is taking place in our life – both the good and the evil – what we’ve planned and what has occurred by “accident.”

God is at work in these circumstances, and as we commit our way to him, he will guide and direct us.

  1. It should give us a sense of destiny.

God has a plan for our lives.  He is doing what he can to direct us to the fulfillment of that plan.  We should do all we can to live the kind of life to fulfill that plan.

More to come tomorrow….

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