Monday, December 31, 2018

November/December 2018 "...a new heart and a new spirit..." Ezekiel 36:26, 27

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you.” Ezekiel 36:26-27 

Nothing is ever the same after the very Spirit of God performs a divine transplant of the heart of one who in humble repentance accepts the Gift He offers. Life is never again the same, possessions are not the same, goals are not the same, and momentary affliction is certainly not as significant as preparation is made for an unseen, but very real, eternal weight of glory. Following is a small sample of multiplied dozens of transplants of once rock-hard, cold hearts that recently in Tepic have been converted miraculously to vibrant ones of flesh, now-inhabited by God’s Spirit, discipled by His obedient followers, and prepared to seek out and share the life-giving Gospel with other broken hearts of stone.

Julio was the shaman of the Huichol village of Guásima del Caimán a dozen years ago when José López and his team of five missionaries first made contact there with the Gospel, and 36 rebellious hearts were replaced with hearts of flesh. Instigated by Julio, the determined and relentless persecution of the new believers began, never once letting up, especially when Mauricio, Julio’s son and next in line to become the shaman, believed. Eventually, the persecuted believers relocated to La Bendición. Mauricio’s siblings, all but one (who is in the state penitentiary), and Julio’s wife, their mother, gave their hearts to the Savior, as well; but Julio refused to listen to the Gospel…until this past September. At long last, he was persuaded, repented, and invited the Spirit to inhabit his obstinate, hardened heart. Just two short months later, Julio died. Pastor Martín, Erén, and I traveled to La Bendición for Julio’s funeral. The same brothers and sisters whom Julio had so stubbornly persecuted made the arrangements, bought the burial plot, paid his medical and funeral costs, dug the 9-foot hole for the casket with picks and shovels, and sang songs of praise as his body was being lowered into the ground. And I will put My Spirit in you.

The children from the OANSA club in Zapote de Picachos have reason to celebrate! They have learned that God Himself sent His only Son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin, live a perfect life, and give Himself as a ransom so that their disobedient, little hearts of stone, now hiding God’s Word, may be transformed to the dwelling place of His Spirit. Their lives, and those of their leaders, are fresh and meaningful.

The children from the OANSA club in Tepic also have reason to celebrate--lots of reasons to celebrate! Yeimi, a 9-year-old girl in my little group called “Flames,” came from a complex, dysfunctional, amalgamated family, with little hope. But Yeimi has been faithfully hiding God’s Word in the heart of stone with which she was born, and not long ago, she made the choice to invite the Savior to be her Lord. She has consistently asked her father to help her review her memory verses, and in time, Juan Antonio, along with the rest of her family, believed.

Yeimi told Pastor Martín that she wanted to prove her commitment to Jesus and be baptized like He was, even though the water is quite cold right now. Her father, as well as four other OANSA students, Rigo, Christian, Antonio, and Teresa, followed Yeimi’s example.

This year’s Christmas Celebration at IBBM-Tepic was the best ever. Every single actor was one whose heart of stone has been wondrously transformed into a Spirit-filled heart of flesh. See their 9-minute dramatic presentation here.

The little band of mother-tongue-translators, dedicated, persevering, and faithful servants, has been at work for 11 years on the laborious task of translating the Old Testament of the very Word of God into Huichol. That precise Word of God has penetrated their once stone-hard hearts with life-giving Truth to such a degree that they, along with some others from their villages, enthusiastically gave up their Christmastime at home this year to travel to various remote mountain villages to share the Good News with Huichols who are just now hearing and learning its Truth and experiencing the miracle of new birth, a saving relationship with its Author, and hearts of flesh inhabited by His Spirit.

May we not lose sight that it is only the living Word of God, Whose birth we have celebrated just this month, and the written Word He has left us that replaces hearts of stone with hearts of flesh and accomplishes His miraculous work by means of His very own Spirit within. This is grounds for celebration today, and every day of this new year.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you.” Ezekiel 36:26-27 

See more November/December Tepic activity pictures here.

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