Nepal,

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Many greetings from Nepal!

After my trip to India early November I arrived safely northwest from Kathmandu, at the feet of Annapurna Mountains. If I crawl in the morning out of my tent, I can see the beauty of God’s creation and the sun touching the mountain range up to over 8000 m. It is amazing to see this beautiful setting. The day starts early. Neighbors and Pastors are starting to use the bathroom (outside cold water tap) from 04.30 in the morning with great joy and excitement. Then you can hear singing, prayers, reading of the Bible and communal praying in the Church building and the sleeping quarters. The over 60 indigenous Nepali Churches we work with our partners in Nepal, are soaked with prayer and sharing Jesus’ love. This is infectious for everyone who experiences this mystery of the Gospel.

The time here together is very special. We meet and learn from the Word of God and worship together at the feet of Jesus. Daily we study 6-7 sessions the 1st letter of Paul to the Corinthian Church and its implications for the Nepali Church. Next to the seminar we have time to pray with one another, share and discuss issues we need to look at in the different Church plants.

All participants are around 50. Michael Stecher from Germany and Marc Badalan from Rumania joined us as well, which was a great joy. Since they have been last year Nepal as well, people were very excited to meet them again. They are such a blessing to the people here.

After discovering what Paul was teaching the Corinth Church, we ask what the Lord is teaching us through His Spirit regarding our personal lives and then also for the ministry we are involved. After learning from His Word, we often discussed issues from Paul’s teaching in small groups and brought afterwards feedback to the big group.  

Here is an overview of the teaching of Paul to the Corinth Church, which we studied and through which we learned so much:

Chapter 1: Paul introduces his calling as an Apostle of the Lord. He planted the Church on his second Gospel Journey (Acts 18). After Paul shares all what the Church has received from the Lord, he mentions about divisions in the Church and that the true foundations of the Gospel is established in the Work of Jesus on the cross and not on certain leaders. The cross brings unity and the message of the cross redemption and does not leave any room for boasting or human wisdom any person in the church could build on.  

Chapter 2: To preach and share the message of the Gospel we need to rely on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit, without whom the mystery of the Gospel cannot be revealed to human beings. The Holy Spirit sees the heart of the Father in heaven and shows what the Father has freely given to the disciple of Jesus Christ. How amazing is this!!! In our own lives and ministry of the Gospel we need the working of the Holy Spirit, otherwise we are working for nothing.

Chapter 3: Paul is so sad that the congregation of Corinth is filled with spiritual babes while they should be disciple making followers of Christ already, teaching others!

The Church of Christ is not divided by certain “important leaders”, but the Church is a result of God’s work and because He gives the growth of the seed that was planted and watered by humble servants of Christ. The variety and diversity of the different ministries we received from the Lord will not compare or compete, but add and enrich the work of the Lord. We need planters and those who water the seedling. That is a big shift from division and group thinking of the Church to be united in the ministry and God given task.

Chapter 4: Here we learn about the example of a slave. Paul uses the word of a slave that is working in the lowest deck of a Roman gallere. In this way Paul describes himself as a slave of Christ – at the same time a steward of the mysteries of God. He lives sold out to Christ and is a responsible steward of God’s mysteries. It reminded us of Josef in the Old Testament. He was made a slave, but at the same time he was the steward over Potiphar’s house. Everything was entrusted to him beside Potiphar’s wife. We are to give and hand out, what we have received in the Gospel as the ones who are slaves of Christ. Set free to live in Christ. What a privilege - freely without taking honor and advantage. This message and attitude of Christ, who became a slave on our behalf to set us free should change every self-centered disciple of Christ.  

Chapter 5: While the Church in Corinth lost all power because they concentrated on divisions rather than on serving discipleship, they also turned a blind eye to sexual sin in the congregation. Paul expected them to deal with this matter as it arose and help, but they proudly defended themselves instead of leading the people involved to repentance or taking steps of help if they would not repent and come back to Jesus. As slaves of Christ we are responsible towards Christ and that has results towards the body of Christ.  

Chapter 6: Conflicts among believers should not be dealt with at court of law. Believers are to take responsibility to deal with matters among themselves. The body of Christ is to help, heal, remain in purity and discover themselves as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Even our physical body we are God’s temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. Not immorality, but total surrender is Paul’s teaching to the Church in Corinth.  

Chapter 7: Till now Paul us dealing with matters that were on his heart to address. But from this chapter he is dealing with questions that were asked by the church.  

Regarding marriage Paul asks greatest respect and views marriage as God given and instructs with practical examples how married couples need to invest in this special relationship. Immorality should not be found among the church in Corinth, but purity and respect, no to divorce and freedom to live God’s call regarding marriage or staying unmarried. We also discussed how the Church needs to protect this freedom, if the surrounding culture is forcing anything else that is not the leading of Jesus.  

Chapter 8: In Corinth were divisions and questions about eating food that was first generally sacrificed to idols and then sold at the market. Some did not mind and celebrated their freedom in Christ and judged others who could not do the same and stopped eating meat after all. In this chapter we are taught how to treasure and respect the brothers and sisters in Christ more than our own freedom. This is a reflection of selfless love portraying Christ. It is not about our own freedom of being disciples of Jesus, but living out His attitude of love towards others.

Idle-worship is found in Nepal with millions of idles but also in the West like idles are worshipped like: Money, lust, work, possession honor, cars, status and many more things. Flee idle-worship!

Chapter 9: Paul explains that he as an Apostle of Christ did not make use of his right to live by the Gospel he is preaching, which is a Biblical principle explained in detail in chapter 9. But Paul preached the Gospel without any financial implication or advantage and NOT because he volunteered, but because God called him to do so and not because he was looking for a job. His lifestyle became the spreading of the Gospel with love that cared for many broken people. This was Paul’s goal, what is your life-goal?

Chapter 10: In Christ we are given all privileges and God’s fullness to follow Him. Just as the people of Israel were given everything that was needed to follow Him, but they failed and fell away from God. They worshipped idles and lived in sexual sins and could NOT go into the Promised Land. We Disciples of Christ are warned through the bad example of God’s people during their dessert walk.

We need to remind us daily that CHRIST is the rock of living water through His Spirit that supplies all our needs. Idle-worship forgets about Christ and runs with things and “blessings” instead, but this can lead to a very bitter end. Flee any idle-worship and ask Jesus to set you free.

Chapter 11: Paul says: “Imitate me, as I do the Messiah.” Paul was a leader and Apostle of the Church of Christ, but his aim was to teach them to walk with Jesus and not to copy him as a person.  

There are different roles of men and women in the Church and the Lord’s Supper unites in the ONE who gave His life for every sinner on earth. We are to proclaim His death till Jesus comes back.

Chapter 12: In this chapter we learn that the members of the body are united with different gifts of the Holy Spirit but there is ONE Spirit. Different ministries but there is ONE Lord. Different results, but there is ONE God. The gifts that the Holy Spirit is giving is to build each other up and not to compete or to compare. We need each other to be strong and build up. This is a revelation that unites the Church of Christ!

Chapter 13: This chapter is such a pearl in the book of 1. Corinthian, but it was put in to deal with the problems that arose through a false understanding of the gifts of the Spirit. Even if a person has all gifts, without love it means nothing! Love is patient and friendly, she does not envy and does not make herself important...

Love remains and is the most important gift! It is the gift of Christ!

Chapter 14: The gifts and how they should be used in the Church of Christ are described in this chapter. Every member in the Church of Christ is important and needed. No member can say: “I do not need you!” We need each other and allow the Lord to be tools that are taught by the Word of God and used by His Holy Spirit.  

Chapter 15: Some Church members did not believe in the resurrection of the dead and Paul explains it so nicely, that the result of such teaching would make our faith fake. Any person who does NOT believe in the resurrection is departing from Christ, because in HIM all resurrection is founded.

The first chapter starts with the Word of the cross and chapter 15 frames the message of the resurrection as fundamental for the faith in Christ. 1. Cor 15,3-4. This is what the Scriptures say!  

God’s Word is the authority of salvation and proof if faith is genuine or false. Keeping this in mind and heart the resurrection of Christ is the powerful message in our own lives but also in the Church of Christ. The message of the cross and resurrection gives eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Death lots its power and will be swallowed in eternal victory when Jesus comes back. This is what we live and preach.  

Our hope is also that our physical body is planted like a seed of grain and resurrected into a spiritual body through the power of God when Jesus comes back and that in His divine order.

Chapter 16: In the beginning of this chapter Paul encourages the believers to help the Church in Jerusalem because of a famine which brought a lot of difficulties to the believers. Next to his travel plans he gives a glimpse of the NETWORK in ministry that he is one little part of. This is so needed for us today.

Remain alert. Keep standing firm in your faith. Keep on being courageous and strong. Everything you do should be done lovingly (V 13-14).

Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory).

 

Our Seminar went well and the Pastors and Church-planters went back to their villages. We are praying for them. Since the Nepali government does not allow them to share their faith with others their freedom of religion is cut and they are endangered to be imprisoned up to 5 years. BUT their hearts are ignited and ready to share JESUS with the people who are waiting to hear and be set free in Christ.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the faith in Nepal!

Maranatha: May our LORD come!

With love Matthias

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