By now, most of us have had time to reflect on the year 2022 we just left behind. One of the thoughts that has repeatedly come to my own mind is the phrase “in the fullness of time.” We find this phrase in the Scriptures several times. In the New Kings James version of the Bible, we find those words three times; once in Daniel 8:23, again in Galatians 4:4, and also in Ephesians 1:10. Just before sharing the latest news from the House of Blessing, I would like to share some brief thoughts from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church. We’ll begin at verse 7:
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:7-14
Everything about this passage ties into what our lives as believers and followers of Jesus is all about, and it is something we should keep in mind—especially now as we are so close to the return of our Messiah. It is earlier in verse 4 of this chapter we learn that God’s plan for our redemption was made long before the foundation of the earth was ever laid. Does that amaze you? It should! The plan of salvation was not a panicked plan hatched after our first parents sinned in the Garden of Eden. God, who exists outside of time, knew exactly what was going to happen and why. We don’t understand the fullness of “why”, but be assured, God does and He has it handled just as He planned long before it became history..
Because of the mighty power of the Blood through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, we, those who have repented and accepted His free gift of forgiveness, stand blameless before Him. That is what the “mystery of God’s will” is all about. Once all has been completed as laid out in God’s sovereign plan, in the fullness of the times, He will gather together in one, all things in Christ. That includes both the believers who have already died and those of us still here on earth at the time of His coming.
In verse 11 we are told that we have obtained an inheritance. It is a predestined inheritance purposed by God, who always accomplishes all things He sets out to do. In submitting to Him, we receive everything He has purposed for us in this impossible to imagine inheritance. Then He tells us, we are sealed in the Holy Spirit of promise—the guarantee of that inheritance until we, the purchased possessions, are brought home to live forever in the house of our Father in Heaven!
We are just passing through this life. We are pilgrims looking for another “city, whose Builder and Maker is GOD!” As we are still here however, we share the good news story of God’s love for mankind with those we find ourselves in contact with until the time when we are called Home. That is our task, and that is the task of the House of Blessing.
Regular readers of the Mideast Updates know that the winter time is very difficult for those who find themselves having to live the refugee life. The weather turns cold, storms of rain and snow blow through, tents get blown down, and belongings get soaked and often ruined. It is hard to imagine for those of us who have never experienced such hardships. Knowing full well what difficulties refugee life can bring, many hundreds of HOB missionaries still make the choice to embed themselves among the refugees so they can demonstrate the love of God by sharing food, supplies (when they are available), and especially the Word of God. The Good News about who Jesus really is, and why He came to earth, is a story that most Muslim people have never heard. It is a shock when they find out there is true forgiveness of sin and the assurance of being adopted into the family of God. To these folks, the above passage of Scripture has great meaning once it is explained to them. What a compassionate God we serve!!
The tough winter weather described above became a reality once again for HOB and the refugees at the end of 2022 and it will continue until the season changes. Thousands of tents have already either been damaged or blown over by the storms that have already come through. HOB missionaries have been very busy helping people get resituated with tents that have been repaired or reset after having blown over. Just Suleiman and his missionary team alone helped at least 1900 families with their tents. After a storm that didn’t stop for three days, many of the other missionary teams were very busy trying to help thousands of others get their tents repaired and reset.
Many thanks to those who sent help just before Christmas. HOB was able to get a couple truck loads of dry wood and distribute the wood among thousands of tents. Two loads of wheat were also purchased and distributed as well as ½ load of beans and rice and ¼ load of tomatoes. God was merciful and the food was once again multiplied so that HOB was able to help feed well over 200,000 people in 20 camps. Some of the missionaries needed to put the food supplies in nylon bags so that the food could be kept dry, due to the stormy weather.
In spite of the weather, many thousands of people heard the testimonies and teaching by the HOB missionaries. Like usual, the response to the Good News and the prayers of the missionaries was great. These many souls are being gathered as part of a very great harvest being brought in just before “the fullness of time” the passage in Ephesians above speaks of.
Pastor R said that cholera is still a big problem. Even though the missionaries were able to clean up so many areas where sanitation was a real problem and build hundreds of new toilets, HOB was limited in what they were able to do. Poor sanitation practices and sewage tainted water are a problem all over the refugee camps. This even extends into parts of Lebanon today. These people really need our prayers. Their circumstances are very poor and it is costing many lives.
Pastor R was hit pretty hard with some type of flu bug but he seems to gradually be on the mend again. He continues to have many meetings with the HOB leadership and they have spent hours in prayer and discussions on how to continue the work. The needs of course will always be enormous among so many people, but we serve a very big God.
As we live in anticipation of our Lord’s soon appearance for His people, let’s continue to hold all of the House of Blessing up in our prayers. Soon, the “fullness of time” will arrive and we’ll all be gathered together in the presence of our Lord and King! Soon and Very Soon…!
Forever in His Service,