4
May

Where is Your Treasure?

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston   in Our Mission

Matthew 6:21 (New International Version)

21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It is hard for me to just write about things without it becoming some kind of devotional because I get so inspired myself by something I have read in the bible or in a devotional that I end up going there.  I think what some may not get is that often it is to pass on how the Lord is encouraging me in the moment.  This leg of our journey is not an easy one.  No one could have told us that this would be the hardest part thus far, before we got to it.

We operate on so many different levels right now that often it is hard to keep straight what we are, and need, to be doing.  We go through monthly re-evaluations of our goals, progress, and needs.  This better helps us to focus on what our next step is and how we can do better what we are already doing.  We find that we change our route to our treasure, but when we refer to God’s map it was there the whole time the way he intended.  We just don’t know how to read it sometimes. lol. 

One area of revamping for myself has been in job priorities.  I have had a very full year and had to quit doing some things as more mission specific projects have come up.   Between homeschooling our children and missions life has been very full.  One wonderful thing about that is that I find that I am more centered on the purpose of God rather than just the purpose of our local church.  I do think that it is giving our family a broader Christian view and that is only a benefit as missionaries.  Most of my internal church involvement has come to an end because there is a lack of quality and attention that comes with being too divided in your focus.  Ron and I have each chosen a ministry to stay focused on in church and work on that.  But the days of multiple ministry involvement here are changing as we take on those multiple roles for the mission field.  We are working hand in hand with God on so many levels that we feel purposed in most everything we are doing.  From our constant communication with God through prayer, reading books in preparation, praying for our field assignments, communicating with those we will be working with on the field, our theology classes, our language learning, our devotions, going and sharing with others, conversations with the kids… there is so much that it seems tiring trying to list it all, but the funny thing is that it is not.  It is exhilarating and fills us with so much that we don’t even know how to say it all.  It is because it is our hearts desire.  To serve the Lord, and to serve him where he is sending us.  Where he is sending us.  Not where we alone want to go.  Where our treasure is, that is where our heart is.  Serving our Risen Lord to spread the good news and serve his church in Peru!

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16
Apr

The Storm Will Not Overtake You!

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston   in Our Mission

I love the story of Jesus walking on water found in Matthew 14. Jesus’ disciples headed out in a boat while Jesus dismissed the crowds He had just been teaching. After spending time alone to pray, Jesus headed out during the fourth watch of the night to the boat full of disciples which was being beaten about by the waves far offshore. When the disciples saw him, they freaked thinking it was ghost. Jesus reassured them by saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Peter responded by saying, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus commanded Peter to come, and Peter stopped out of the boat and headed toward Jesus. Of course, we all know that when Peter saw the wind and waves he began to doubt and sink, but Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of Peter saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
 
So many aspects of this situation intrigue me.  I have started analyzing the wording of passages.  I have found many different lectionary and commentary sources to help me with that.  Also looking at the wording as it was originally.  I hope that you get something out of this too. The story of Jesus walking on the water follows the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. It is interesting to note how Jesus reacts after this and the reactions of the disciples.

VERSES 22-23:  HE WENT UP THE MOUNTAIN BY HIMSELF TO PRAY

22Immediately Jesus made (Greek:  enankasen –– compels) the disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. When evening had come, he was there alone.

 “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat”  The disciples obey Jesus, trusting him and willing to follow his guidance.  They had just seen Jesus feed 5 thousand people with hardly anything! 

“After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray”   He tried to find a quiet place earlier, but the crowds interrupted him (14:13).  Now he finds the opportunity to pray. He could have taken his friends and students with him, but he knew, as  we sometimes do, that we need to get alone with God.  What we have to say, reflect on, thank him for, is between God and you.  Jesus set the example.  Sometimes we are so frantic about a situation that we try to call anyone and everyone, or visit someone, or wait to go to bible study, but what we need to do is just get alone and lay it all out to God.  We find too much worth in other people helping us rather than first relying on God and then petitioning others to pray with and for us. 

VERSES 24-27:  TAKE HEART, IT IS I; DO NOT BE AFRAID

 24But the boat was now in the middle of the sea (Greek: stadious pollous apo tes ges –– many stadia from the land), distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25In the fourth watch of the night (Greek:  tetarte de phulake tes nuktos –– in the fourth watch of the night) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear.  27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying “Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid.”

 “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (v. 24).  The boat is studious pollous–– many stadia –– from land.  A stadion is about 600 feet, and John tells us that the disciples had gone about twenty-five to thirty stadia –– about three miles (John 6:19), which would put them near the middle of the sea. 

 “In the fourth watch of the night” (tetarte de phulake tes nuktos –– in the fourth watch of the night) (v. 25a).  The fourth watch is 3:00 to 6:00 a.m., and the disciples have had an amazing day.  I cannot imagine how tired they are.

 “Jesus came to them, walking on the sea”(v. 25b).  “In Biblical literature, the sea is often represented as the abode of demonic forces hostile to God” (Craddock, 400).  To have command over the sea is God’s exclusive right. 

 Matthew has identified Jesus as Emmanuel –– God with us (1:23) –– and this story reinforces that role.  The story of the disciples on the sea  holds a promise that Jesus comes to Christians in the midst of the storm –– that the storm does not hold the upper hand –– that Christ is present with us in the storm and redeems us from the storm.

When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying,

“It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear” (v. 26.)  The storm, while dangerous, is familiar.  It is not until they see Jesus that they are afraid.  They fear that they are seeing a ghost. 

Jesus responds with a threefold statement:  Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid” (v. 27). “Don’t be afraid!” is not a rebuke but an encouragement.  “I AM WHO I AM” (Greek:  ego eimi –– literally “I am”) is God’s name (Exodus 3:14).  “Don’t be afraid” is also an encouragement rather than a rebuke.

VERSES 28-31:  YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY DID YOU DOUBT?

28Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters.” 29He said, “Come!” Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus. 30But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

“Peter answered him and said, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters'” (v. 28).  It is the story of every Christian –– our story too –– as we move back and forth between doubt and faith –– sometimes focused on the storm and sometimes focused on Jesus. 

“He said, ‘Come!’ Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus” (v. 29).  For Peter, this is a moment both of weakness and strength.  He doubts, but wants to believe.  He fears, but steps out of a perfectly good boat into the storm. 

“But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (v. 30).  Peter calls out, “Lord, save me!” –– expressing faith even through his fear.

Jesus says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v. 31b).  Jesus first saves Peter, then rebukes him. 

I hope you have made it this far through this.  I know it is long and full.  But the best is at the end.  Why?  Because is speaks of us who are following Jesus on the hard road.  In unknown conditions.  In the face of things we have not seen before.  As missionaries we have made a choice very similar to the disciples of Jesus’ time.  He said follow me and we are.  But there are no promises of calm seas and easy living.  What he does promise is to always be there and never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and this passage above is an extreme example, but a very good one for us and those who are going out in uncharted territory in their lives to serve God.

So, OUR HOPE.  It is in that God knows our journey and invites us anyway.  He knows we will have weak moments, times that we are afraid, and difficult times.  But when during all those times he is right there.  And when we start to sink and cry out to Him he will reach down and save us.  This part makes me reflect on the vision that brought me to my Lord Jesus in the first place.  Never having read this before, yet my words were, “Jesus, save me!”  How amazing and reaffirming is that?  And I know that my Lord is there as we feel like we are struggling in raising finances.  As we look at the waves that seem to be tossing us.  As we feel like we are sinking.  But do not lose heart!  Remember what Peter did and cry out to your Savior for he is already reaching out His hand to you.  Amen.

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3
Apr

Long, but worth reading…

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston   in Our Mission

This Easter I have many things on my heart.  But the most prevalent is the Sacrifice and Rising of Jesus.  The most important fact in Life. 

I want to share scriptures today.  Why?  Because it points out something important about God that people forget.  I have repeatedly been warned by others that speaking out is not becoming of a missionary.  Yet, is it not what the Lord has asked of those he calls to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We are speaking out against a world that wants what it wants, when it wants it.  People do not know the truth and we are called to tell them.  We are pointing the way to God and that means making a commitment that requires the uncomfortable role of speaking out, stepping out, and going where the Lord calls us no matter how uncomfortable it may seem or be.  I do not expect to be popular by any means, and if I am then I must ask myself if I am really doing the Lord’s will.  For Jesus himself said that for following him, and doing what he has asked, people will hate us. (Mark 13:13 7 & Matthew 10:22, Luke 6:22, Luke 21:17, John 15:18-19)

We have experienced people having doubts as to the call of our mission.  We have had people who have given us words of discouragement or warning.  Churches and Pastors telling us their reasons for not being able to even hear about this mission God has us on.  Often it has been because of a fear that there is not enough money.  Or because they just don’t do that anymore.  And it has been discouraging on a very human level.  On a spiritual level it is just disconcerning how people think that in this “modern time” that we are no longer under the same call that Jesus originally gave.  People may have changed, times may have changed, but the call of the Lord has not, nor has the Lord himself.  Mathew 18:19-20  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8)  God is not saying go to all the nations and share me.  He is saying go and make disciples.  That means that he wants us to go, show, and teach.  Just as he did 2000 years ago.  And he reiterates that he is with us to the end of the age.  That would speak the end of this world to me. And we are not there yet.

We are stepping out to do exactly what the Lord has asked us to do.  We are praying for his encouragement, but also the encouragement of those who have been called by Christ to walk along side us in prayer, to stand up for us, and financially support us.  Many times in history people have decided the work of God was done.  Many times people have fallen away from following God.  Many times people get comfortable in their lives and decide that if it is to be done, well, then there is someone else to do it.  But maybe God wants you to do it.  Don’t be afraid to ask and lay fear aside so that you can actually hear the answer.  God is not through speaking to us and our work is not done until the Lord Jesus Christ returns again and says “It is finished”!  We need your help and we need you to hear God when he tells you that this is His will.

I love this scripture from a little read book of Haggai, in the bible.  It tells of another time when God’s people grew comfortable and got lost in themselves.  I fear that at times we do this too.  And I want to learn from the mistakes that people made prior to me so that I do not have to learn things the hard way.  Some day each of us will stand before our Lord.  What will your testimony be?  I pray that the Lord will speak to you and be with you and point you in the way that is often not easy, but His way.  Much Love, Stephanie.

Haggai 1

A Call to Build the House of the LORD

 1In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua [a]son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

 2This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”

 3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

 5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

 7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

 12Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.

 13Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. 14So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.

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