Monday, April 20, 2015

A Small Study on the Conscience

Cross-cultural ministry, circumstances, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit have led me to consider and reconsider what the Bible teaches about the conscience. There is clearly a large study to be done here, but I wanted to post some brief conclusions along with some verses that I will be adding to my daily prayer list.

The Bible says that there are those with strong consciences, who correctly discern right from wrong and are free from guilt and shame. There are also those with weak consciences who feel conviction and guilt over things that are not wrong (such as eating the wrong foods). (1 Cor 8)

The Bible also speaks of those with seared and defiled consciences who can no longer feel conviction (1 Tim 4:2, Titus 1:15).

We must not violate our conscience. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

The blood of Christ cleanses us and our conscience (Heb 9:14, 10:22).

We cultivate good, strong consciences by having a strong faith in the sacrifice Christ for a right relationship with God (no guilt, no shame) and by seeking the Word of God and the community of faith to keep us from blind spots and areas where our conscience has been hardened by experience.

Verses for my prayer list:

Acts 23:1
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

Father I want to live in a good conscience before you every single day. I never want to violate my conscience. Teach me wisdom and give me strength to live according to every inner conviction. Help me to only make decisions when I know my conscience is clear on the subject.

Acts 24:16
This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

2 Corinthians 1:12
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

1 Timothy 1:5
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

Hebrews 9:14
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Father, I want my conscience to be cleansed. Lord there are many things that I remember that still bother my conscience, and there are many things that I have questions about. I have confessed all known sin to you, and I now I ask that you would cleanse my conscience from every dead work, that all guilt and shame would be gone and that I would walk before you in complete confidence in my service to You, in Jesus name.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Skill-Power, Proverbs, and Freedom



While researching addiction, I came across this excellent Ted Talk. The principles taught in this talk are highly practical and reminded me of numerous Scriptures. As I pursue freedom for others and myself, I continually discover the power of practical obedience. Principles matter. Truth sets us free. Jesus is the answer. But we must respond to that truth. We must obey it. We have a responsibility to apply wisdom and truth to our lives: to access the power of the Holy Spirit, and to do whatever it takes to be free. Below are the results of my Bible Study inspired by this Ted Talk.

#1 Willpower
Repentance, "Do You Want to be Free?"
Matthew 15:1-20, James 4:1-10

#2 Skillpower
What does the Bible say about to deal with your specific struggle?
Hosea 4:6, Psalm 119, 2 Timothy 3:16, Matthew 22:29

Control the sources that control us:
Mark 3:22-27

#3 Social Pressure
1 Corinthians 15:33, Ecclesiastes 4:12, Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 13:20

#4 Social Ability
James 5:16, Proverbs 27:17, Proverbs 9:9

#5 Rewards
(Lots of Scripture on the rewards of holiness, gotta narrow this one down and choose the most practical)

#6 Space
2 Timothy 2:22, Matthew 6:13, Romans 13:14

Plan to deal with setbacks:
Proverbs 24:16, Micah 7:8-9, 1 John 1:7-9

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Does the Bible Say About Money?

Life has been full of Bible reading projects for the last year or so, but I have been selfishly holding out on my readers. I'm going to try to do better.

About a week ago I was praying in the shower, and I felt the Lord impress me to ask my brother to do a Bible study with me over Google Hangout. He lives in Philadelphia, and I am here in Detroit. I use video conference often to do Bible studies and train believers to make disciples all over the nation. I felt that I should tell him to pick a topic and that I would study whatever he wanted: a book, a book of the Bible, a topic, whatever.

As we talked, he mentioned that he was trying to save money. He is a computer programmer for a hedge fund and is quite adept at both programming and investing. I mentioned that I was trying to save more money and raise more support as I need a significant increase in my income in order to have a family. It occurred to both of us that we should study money.

We both read the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes this week, highlighting all the verses we found that spoke about money. I used a green highlighter and used a cheap edition of the New Living Translation, which I love for the Old Testament and especially Proverbs. I have been reading proverbs every month along with my reading plan, so this study fit right in. You can see the evangelistic DVD Magdalena stuck in the pages. I used it as a straight edge so that my highlighting wasn't wavy. After I was finished I hopped on BibleGateway and copied and pasted all the verses I highlighted into a Google Doc which my brother, and I will discuss on Google Hangout (this post brought to you by Google . . . just kidding).

My goals for this study are to get quality time with my brother, learn about how to make more money, steward what God gives me better, and raise more support. I really want to honor God as He blesses me with enough income to get married and increase ministry. When I first entered full-time ministry I was super-spiritual about money. I don't regret that because I learned to trust the Lord, seek the Kingdom first, and live with absolute integrity when it came to finances. My first year in full-time ministry I made less than $6500. Since then the Lord has greatly blessed me, and I know that He will bless me more and more as I apply His Word, wisdom, and hard work.

You can learn more about my ministry, contact me, and donate at jonathanammon.org (there are also many free sermons and trainings)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Finding Faithful Men (April 2015 Newsletter)

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word – John 17:18-20

The Father sent Jesus into this world on a mission of love and reconciliation. He brought and was the Good News of God’s mercy and righteousness. His self-sacrifice and resurrection brought us into new life and made us new creations in Him. Jesus not only paid for our sins to be removed, but brought us into His identity, giving us a new birth in Him. He prayed not only for His disciples, but for future generations of men and women who would believe. His vision went all the way to you and me, and His vision included the faithfulness of eleven flawed fisherman who were transformed by the Holy Spirit.
IMG_0731
Lunch after a disciple-making training.

In the same way that the Father sent Jesus, Jesus has sent us (John 20:21). His example not only includes holiness and miracles, but also discipleship and investment in people. We are to sow the Word of God, the message of Christ, and the character and experience of Jesus into our relationships. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul’s instruction to Timothy was to reinvest the kingdom seeds that Paul had sown into his life into others. Timothy was instructed to find and invest in faithful men.
Both John 17:18-20 and 2 Timothy 2:2 point to four generations of discipleship:
The Father>Jesus>His Disciples>Those who will believe
Paul>Timothy>Faithful Men>Others
Every day I ask God for faithful men and for four generations of disciples in my life and ministry. A large part of my ministry is searching for “people of peace” (Luke 10) and “Faithful men” who will receive the Good News and multiply thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold. I am excited at what God is doing around the nation to answer these prayers: Nathan in Indianapolis leading addicts to Christ and training and discipling men who are witnessing to the lost and beginning to train others, Steve in Nebraska who is witnessing to many people groups and seeing Muslims come to faith, B____ and others here in the Detroit area who are coming into faith and sharing the Good News with others. All of these men are proving their faithfulness and reinvesting what I have taught and sowed into their lives by the grace of God.
This multiplication of the Gospel and God’s Word is His work, which He has entrusted to me, just as Jesus entrusted the spread and multiplication of the Gospel to eleven flawed fisherman and a former persecutor of the church, Paul. We are all a testament to God’s mercy, love, and grace.
Please join me in prayer as I seek the Lord to send Laborers into the harvest (Luke 10:2), to multiply the work of those I am training, and to give me faithful men who will teach others and spread the Kingdom of God. I know the best is yet to come.
Read the rest of the April 2015 Newsletter.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

No Place Left (February 2015 Newsletter)

 . . . in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.  And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, but as it is written:
“To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.”
 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. But now no longer having a place in these parts . . . – Romans 15:19-23a
Paul was commissioned by Jesus to “fully” or completely preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul was called to pioneer, to take the Good News of Christ’s death, resurrection, and Lordship to those who had never heard. He was obedient the heavenly vision and fulfilled his calling in both quality and quantity, fully preaching the Gospel in a move of the Holy Spirit and miracles, and fully preaching the gospel in every geographical area he could reach. At the end of his life he could boldly announce, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Fully Preached the Gospel
This month I led a mission team in a brief evangelistic outreach. Because of the cold and the time of night we had available, we were sharing the gospel in the many small shops and stores owned and operated by first-generation immigrants in Hamtramck. I stopped in to a familiar fish market where I made a new friend, I_____.
I shared my story of how Jesus had changed my life and gave him the Jesus Film in his language. He was very open to listening, and rather than objecting or changing the subject he began to ask a series of questions about the Bible. We talked until I was almost out of time to meet the team to debrief. I was a little sad leaving I_____ when we were still having good conversation. He said that he rarely came to Hamtramck, but I gave him my contact information and urged him to call me.
I have many conversations with people like I_____ who have never heard a coherent presentation of the Good News that God loves us so much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). I long to see these people transformed by the power of God. I want to share more than just words with them, though I have great confidence in the Word of Life. I want them to experience the truth, I want them to feel it. I want them to hear the voice of God, to feel His touch, to see His love. I want them to receive miracles. I want to be able to testify that I “fully” preached the gospel, that the Holy Spirit finished the work.
No Place Left
I want to not only “fully” preach the gospel in quality, but I also want to “fully” preach the gospel in the area where God has called me. Paul preached until there was no place left for him to go where people had not heard. I want to present the gospel to every home in Hamtramck. This year we are tracking and organizing outreaches in order to reach every single street of the city. We already have a good start, and the best is yet to come!
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Read the rest of the February 2015 Newsletter

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fresh Labor and Fresh Vision (January 2015 Newsletter)

Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. – John 4:35

Jesus told His disciples to look at the harvest, to open their eyes and look with new eyes and understanding that the time was short and that harvest time was now. Our vision and our focus determine everything that we do. How we see the world around us and what God has commanded us to do determine our obedience and our motivation.

When Jesus looked at the harvest he was moved with compassion and urgency. When Jesus saw a hungry crowd He took responsibility for their needs. He challenged His disciples, “You give them something to eat.” It was an impossible task in their eyes. They had no resources, no plan, and no strategy to provide for the hungry masses. Jesus challenged their thinking, teaching them to consider not only the need in front of them, but the power of God that was present in their relationship with Him. Jesus gave instructions to organize the crowd, imposing structure on the chaos, before placing the miracle of multiplying bread in the disciples’ hands. As they obeyed, they saw a miracle unfold before them.

Ministry requires that we see both the need of the world and God’s power to meet the need. We must see the ripeness of the harvest and the power of the Holy Spirit to reap the souls of men. We must hear the voice of the Master and obey, trusting that He will both direct our work and put a miracle in our hands that will be more than enough for the massive need that surrounds us.
I am filled with anticipation as I seek the Lord in prayer and fasting this January. I see the same harvest, I’ve seen before. I see the hopelessness and helplessness of those around me. They are captives to sin, depression, and both spiritual and physical poverty. They are spiritually alone. My heart is moved with compassion. I can remember the hopelessness of being lost and without Christ, but though I am moved with empathy I do not live in their hopelessness. I live in the hope of a kind and loving God who is powerful and mighty to save and rescue. I hear His voice encouraging and strengthening His body and giving us both directions and power to reach the lost of this world.

I am thrilled for new partnerships, new outreaches, and the new miracles we will see this year. Even today I am working on resources and organization that will help us map and carry out evangelistic outreaches to every home on every street of Hamtramck this year. In the next few months mission teams will be coming to Hamtramck to labor in our harvest, and I will get to invest in the body of Christ in Uganda. Old partnerships will mature as we discover the gifts in one another and find greater unity. New partnerships are already forming as God spreads a single vision among His body. I know that God will fill our hands with bread that multiplies to every home. The best is yet to come!


Read the rest of the Newsletter here.