Even Greater Things

In John 14:12, Jesus, while saying his good-byes to his disciples, makes an amazing statement: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father”.

Wait a minute… which “works” is Jesus referring to? Does he mean miracles? What exactly did Jesus mean by “even greater things”? How we answer these questions has profound implications for our life and ministry.

I’ve heard all kinds of answers being offered. I’ve heard preachers claim on the basis of this passage that all believers will perform miracles as long as they have enough faith. (Lack of miracles, must mean lack of faith on our part). I’ve also seen preachers perform “exegetical gymnastics” with this passage to say the exact opposite - to eliminate any expectation of supernatural works in a believer’s life. (Lack of miracles, must mean God doesn’t do that anymore.)

I don’t think Jesus meant we will perform greater miracles than he did (how do you rank miracles anyway?), but he certainly expected his mission to be continued and accompanied by supernatural works. After all, “the student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” I personally think “even greater things” refers to the growth of the movement and the scope and impact of the ministry to come.

But instead of theology, I’d like to share my experience from being involved in global missions.

I’ve had the unique privilege of traveling to many countries and seeing the global church in action on six continents. I’ve shared meals with amazing brothers and sisters in the world's megacities and in tribal villages. I’ve met Christian leaders who oversee rapidly multiplying movements of thousands of churches and hundreds of thousands of disciples. They all believe that John 14:12 applies to all followers of Jesus, not just the first few. They believe that Jesus expects all of his followers to continue his mission, including continuing the works he did. Lastly, they believe that when Jesus said “and they will do even greater things than these”, he actually meant what he said! He certainly wasn’t trying to lower our expectations of what will happen!

They don’t just believe John 14:12 is true, they are living it and they have personal stories to back it up. Dreams, divine interventions, miracles big and small. God is doing “even greater things” every day around the world and he does it through ordinary men and women doing extraordinary works that can only be explained if God’s supernatural power was involved.

Meeting such believers around the world challenges my insufficient theology, limited experience, and relative lack of faith in what God can do in my life. It also encourages me, strengthens my faith, and raises my expectations. My prayer is that we as a church will see what God is doing around the world, allow ourselves to be challenged by it, and passionately pray for Him to do “even greater things” among us in Escondido. And that you will personally lean into the astounding invitation to continue what Jesus started, so you can see what God can do through you!

Beautiful Feet

I remember it like yesterday. Mom, Dad, and my six brothers and sisters all gathered in a small living room around the TV to watch it at night. These were the times when the whole family would gather around one tv in the house and 4 channels. Compact living and close together. As an 8-year-old kid, the normal daily grind was school, play, and non-stop movement. I kicked my shoes off and laid down in the middle of the living room to join them. That didn’t last long. “What is that smell!” yelled my Mom. I was immediately banished to go wash my feet and missed that Happy Days episode.

Do you know who has beautiful feet? Paul reminds us of this by quoting Isaiah. “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring the Good News!” (Romans 10:15 New Living Translation) In his letter, Paul has outlined the need for repentance, the gospel message of salvation for all, and the incredible eternal benefits of this gift during the first 10 chapters. Now he tells us how the message is communicated.

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?

Having beautiful feet doesn’t require new shoes, expensive perfume, or an expensive pedicure (although they all might be nice). They are not reserved only for the super-spiritual, those that are in professional ministry, or those serving missionally in the most remote places on earth. Missio Dei invites each one of us to participate with Him to reconcile His children.  That can involve knowledge of God’s mission and telling the story, praying for our brothers and sisters from EFCC attempting to reach the unreached, sharing the good news with a coworker, or funding efforts of global missions organizations.

Prayer: Father in heaven. We acknowledge and praise you for who you are and desire for all the lost to be saved. Please Lord, please use us, all of us, in any way you see fit to accomplish your mission. Father, you have put others in our path that have shared the gospel; may you use us to do the same for others…..may you bless us with beautiful feet to share your Good News.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Todd Hoyt
Global Outreach Council

The Condition of my Heart Matters!

Many of you, like me, have grown up in Bible-teaching, missions-minded churches. From early  ages, we’ve repeated “For God so loved the world…” and sang “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go.”  For me, there was a definite surrender of my life to the Lord in my high school years as I sang that song (with the caveat - Please, Lord, just not as a pastor’s wife…which in fact I later became!).

While in Bible college with some decisions looming concerning my future, I came across  Solomon’s words as he dedicated the Temple in 1 Kings 8:60, 61. Stating as God’s “bottom line” His desire that all the people of the earth may know that He is the one and only True God, he goes on to exhort the people to be wholly devoted to (other translations say “committed to,” “fully obey,”  “give your entire heart to”) God. It was an AHA! moment for me…a life-impacting moment! I suddenly realized that the condition of my heart before God…wherever His path would take me… made a difference in God’s seeing His deepest desire met that all the people of the earth would know about Him. The condition of my heart matters! I like the way Eugene Peterson puts this  passage in The Message: “…your lives must be totally obedient to God, our personal God,  following the life path he has cleared, alert and attentive to everything he has made plain this day.”

Obviously for some this means vocational Christian ministry…pastoring, translating Scripture,  taking the message to unreached people groups, and more. For others, it means being a nurse,  driving a school bus, working as a businessman or a carpenter, or being a mom raising kids.  All are important… for wherever God plants us, we have the opportunity to show by life and word that He is the True God, seeking a relationship with us and those whose lives we touch. But the condition of our hearts is paramount for this to happen! We’re in this together…with Him…so that all the people of the earth will know that He is God, and respond to His great love. Will you tell Him today you’re on board with a committed heart to see His will accomplished?

Bev Feiker
Global Outreach Team

The God Who Sees

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

Recently, I had the privilege of being part of a ministry team in Jordan.  We had the opportunity to fellowship with local church leaders, learn simple yet effective ways to share the gospel, participate in discipleship training sessions, attend worship services and home Bible studies.  However, my favorite part was the home visits.  Our team of four, two local women who are ministry leaders and two women from our team, went out several times to seek out Syrian refugee women with whom the truth of God’s love and plan of redemption would be shared.

We sought out these women through congested city streets swarming with cars whose drivers seemed to make up their own traffic rules as they careened along – no stop sign, no problem. Pedestrians bravely stepped out into this tangle of traffic while shopkeepers and shoppers conducted daily business.  Finally, we stopped and began to look for the address of the woman we would visit.  Often, we would walk through dark doorways, down narrow alleys, or climb several flights of stairs to a door.  When we knocked a woman would shyly peek out and open the door for us to enter.

As we listened to these women, themes began to develop of families driven from their homes in Syria because of war, marriages at 14 or 15 years of age with two, three or more children by their early 20’s and for some no ability to read or write.  Many women spoke of heartache, isolation, and loneliness.

Mari is one of these women.  Little did she know that when she opened the door to us her life would change forever.  As Mari listened intently, she learned that God sees her and has always seen her. She learned that he loves her and offers a way through Jesus to heal her brokenness and restore her to a whole relationship with God.  The way it was always meant to be. That day God called Mari out of darkness into the light of His love and she said “yes”.

Do you know someone who is waiting to hear about Jesus? God sees them. Will you also see them and be intentional about sharing God’s plan for redemption with them?

Nancy Wood
Global Outreach Council

Global Sunday

Sunday, November 14th, was Global Sunday at EFCC. Our speaker, Rev. Dr. Hikmat Kashouh, is the senior pastor of Resurrection Church, a vibrant and growing missional church located in the suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon. He shared with us the great work of the gospel that the Lord is doing in his region. This service/sermon was shared live only and will not be made available online after the weekend. Sorry for any inconvenience.