Having leaders from Asia in Bangkok for the Beth Barone conference gave us a wonderful treat this Sunday. Ted Olbrich, Foursquare missionary to Cambodia, gave the sermon at Our Home Chapel on Sunday morning. I was excited as I grew up with him as my pastor during my teenage years, prior to Life Bible College www.lifepacific.edu Ted never comes short on stories, so let me briefly give the long intro story to his powerful message. This goes for a while, but it is all good…
Every year they bring a medical mission team to Cambodia and take them to remote parts of the country to give care to the poorest and most untouched by medicine. As the ministry has grown over the ten years that the Olbrich’s have been in Cambodia (read more here http://www.missionreports.com/cambodia/) , the number of people touched continues to grow. Cambodia now has more than 3,000 foursquare churches compared to two in 1998. Matching the essence of compassion for the least and the lost, orphans, widows, poor and sick with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit has seen an explosive growth of churches and revival in Cambodia.
Two years ago near the Thailand border; they set up a medical mission team. They had to basically set up a village to house and sanitize the thousands of sick Cambodians that would be treated that week, roughly 15,000. They usually pulled together 250 pastors, church members and volunteers willing to stage the mission for six weeks prior to the team coming and through the time the team were serving. During all this one of the pastors from the Southeast of Cambodia thought how wonderful it would be to have the same thing in his community one day. However, he never told the missionary or national leader of his desire.
When Ted and the national leader prayed about where to hold the outreach last year, they felt God prompt them to hold it in that pastor’s community (he is the district supervisor in that area). Ted went on to tell the story of this pastor, let’s call him Doug.
Doug had been a longtime member of the Khmer Rouge holding out in the last region to surrender in 1998. He was a rich and brutal general under the devastating regime. Meanwhile in Phnom Pen, another guy from that same Southeast Region made his way to the capitol to see about this church that cared for the orphans. After finding Jesus, he was commissioned as an evangelist back to his home.
This year, 1999, brought a drought to the SE region where Doug had his 40 cattle (a sign of great wealth), big house, cable TV and other luxuries. Doug decided he should move the cattle to a place with food, so he had his son take them north. While the son was feeding the cattle, the evangelist from Phnom Pen went walking through that area. The son intersected him and gave his heart to Jesus. After only a few hours with the man, the son was left to continue caring for the animals, now a Christian with only the knowledge that Jesus had forgiven his sins by dying on the cross.
A little while later, the son was lying down to nap when he heard a voice. He jumped up, looked around, and when he saw nothing decided to try to sleep again. A second time he heard the noise, jumped up saying I heard you this time…show yourself. Again he saw nothing, so he tried to get some sleep. A third time he heard the voice, and this time heard Jesus say, I am Jesus Christ, will you follow me. At this he hired a local guy to watch the cattle, and went from village to village preaching Jesus and proclaiming the great peace that he now possessed in Christ Jesus.
When Doug heard about this, he was livid. He grabbed his machete to kill his son, saying I spent a lifetime trying to destroy this God. After searching the villages to no avail, he returned to find his house in shambles, the furniture destroyed, property burning and his wife and children chased off into the forest. He was ruined. He decided that the joy he saw in the faces of the new Christians that were hiding his son was better than the emptiness and loss he felt. He grabbed a servant, and told him to find his son…he wanted to know about the God that brought all that joy to the people. Now Doug, a district supervisor of pastors, and his eight sons are all ministers in Cambodia. And the medical outreach was coming to his region. He said he wanted to host the outreach to bring healing to a place where he had brought such suffering.
Now, Ted had 40 doctors and medical personal from the west and 200-250 Cambodian workers ready to go with the outreach. The national leader wanted a church service to kick off the event, and he convinced Ted to preach with all the foreigners there. This was the text he used…Jeremiah 22:1-5. He prefaced this with the fact this is his least favorite book in the Bible. His summary, God is mad, I am mad, you are bad. But this passage is what God wanted him to speak on.
1 This is what the LORD says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: 2 ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. 3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right.
Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, and then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’ ”
Basically, you will get the government you deserve. Secondly, Execute judgment and righteousness. Judgment now has been taken care of on the cross, but what is this do righteousness about? We often see righteousness about not doing things, but he defined it as doing the right things God has called us to. Then he went into a summary of Jesus’ life.
Jesus being the son of God was born to Mary. He was raised by Joseph and Mary, still God’s son. He grew up learning carpentry from his father even as he was the son of God. The Bible tells about a time when he went with his family to Jerusalem and wandered over to have a conversation with the teachers of the law (God’s law). His razzle dazzled them with his great knowledge for a few days before Mary and Joseph finally found him. The Bible goes on to say he grew in wisdom (imagine how much wisdom he had at 29 if that is what he had at 12), stature, and favor with God and man. Jesus, the son of God, was well liked by the community and God at 29. Isn’t that what we would all want? But that changed.
At around 30-years-old, he went to find John the Baptist (who said, behold the Lamb of God, whose sandals I am unfit to carry). Jesus wanted to be baptized. John tried to detour him, saying I should be baptized by you. But what did Jesus say…
Matthew 3:15Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
Righteousness…doing the things that are right in God’s eyes. Then what happened. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus. He was empowered by God’s spirit, and he went in to the desert for 40 days of fasting. At the end of which, the devil came to tempt him. A side note: The devil will come when you are the weakest, not when you are strong and ready. But what happened next? Jesus went to his home church (synagogue) and opened the scroll of Isaiah, saying he was the anointed one.
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
On hearing this, the town wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff. Why did this change? Jesus went from being the well-liked son of a carpenter to hated. The empowering of the Holy Spirit can do this to us. Jesus wasn’t dangerous to the devil until he was filled with the Holy Spirit. That is why Satan tried so hard to knock him off. Ted went on to say we can stay comfortable in our carpentry shop, or we can let God pour his Spirit into us. Jesus told us, that we being evil (basically of this world) know how to give good gifts, how much more will our father in heaven give to us generously (the Holy spirit) if we ask.
Jesus also said you will have living waters flowing out of your bellies (John 7:37-39), speaking of the Holy Spirit. We often let God pour into us, but put a lid on it keeping the goodness for our self. But Jesus intended for us to have his Spirit to flow out of us as a blessing to others. At this Ted getting animated, pulled the cap off of his water bottle, saying God wants us to get people wet with the Spirit, and demonstrated what he meant by throwing the water over all of us sitting there. God wants to give us his Spirit to empower us to do what Jesus did. If we want to see the signs and wonders of the Bible, we need his spirit to se the dead raised, the blind see, the lame walk and so on.
He went on to invite any who wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit to come forward. He taught a little more about what this meant beginning in Acts 2. Yes it made people think the disciples were crazy or drunk. He said, you don’t have to speak in tongues, but you get to. Maybe the Sunday service is not the best place for that, but speak in tongues in worship times, prayer times and for personal edification. He also encouraged the m to pray in tongues when you don’t know what to say, or when you want to keep the devil from hearing (it is a devil-proof code).
He taught from Ephesians 19, where Paul found a group of disciples in Ephesus who hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit. But when the spirit came on them, they began to change the city with power and miracles. We have the choice to stay comfortable or have the power of God in us (which might unsettle people around us and especially the powers of darkness). The response was incredible as a number of the people in the service came forward to prayed for, baptized in the Spirit (when we are born again, we are born of the spirit, but when we are filled with the spirit we are empowered with the Holy Spirit). This has been long enough, but I wanted to share the good things God is doing in Our Home Chapel.