Tag Archives: missionary

God’s Desire for Missions

With our annual missions conference starting Saturday, I thought I would search out several Scriptures that indicate God’s Desire for Missions.  God’s heartbeat should be the heart beat of His church.  The most important indicator of any churches vital signs (indicating good or poor health) is it’s pulse for missions and Gospel witness.

Psalm 67:2 That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

Psalm 96:3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

Isaiah 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

These 10 Scriptures give us a glimpse of the will of God for the Gospel to go into all the world.  The Lord uses His people to take His Word and Gospel message to other people.  If you are saved, the Lord used a person to either talk to you, preach to you, hand you a tract or Bible, or you found a Bible or Gospel tract that a person printed.

God can use you to give the Gospel in your local community.  The Lord can use you in global missions too.  Prayer for and giving to missionaries through your church will honor the Lord, help Gospel preachers, and will plant the Seed of the Word into the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, all around the world.

Do you have the same heart beat of God?  Are you doing your part to see the Gospel propagated throughout the world?

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A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”  1 Kings 19:19-21

Have you ever been to an ordination council?  Have you observed the questions that season pastors and preachers asked the candidate for ordination in the “interrogation?”  It is fascinating and I love being on the ordination councils for these men.  It is a good challenge to read the doctrinal statements and attempt to encourage and add insight to the candidate that will help him in future ministry.  What an honor it is to recognize the calling of God on a man for the ministry.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah runs away to a cave from the hateful Queen Jezebel.  After the Lord meets with Elijah, God encourages him that he is not alone that there are many others who are faithful to serve the Lord.  God then gives Elijah an “assistant prophet” named Elisha.

Elisha comes from a wealthy family with many oxen.  He is a hard worker, plowing in the family fields when Elijah meets him the first time.  From there – Elisha follows and helps Elijah everywhere, “ministering” to him.  I am thankful for the assistants the Lord has given me over the years.  I need help in ministry!

When Elisha is called by God to assist Elijah, he asks if he could go home and explain it to his family.  There are many men in ministry today whose families do not understand.  “How could he leave the business world, his hometown, or the family farm?” are common questions.  Elisha kisses his mother and father goodbye but then he throws a celebration.

Elisha takes 2 oxen, butchers them, then has a gigantic cookout.  I love barbecuing on a grill or over an open flame!  That is what he does.  He cooks the beef and throws a celebration to mark the day he answered the call and entered into ministry.

Whenever a man enters ministry – it is a thing to be commended and celebrated.  I hope that when ordination events are held at your church that you do everything possible to be there and to participate because it is a big deal.

  • It is a big deal to God because a man has willingly answered the call to vocational ministry.
  • It is a big deal to family because a son and a husband is entering into the ministry.
  • It is a big deal for the church because they are ordaining and commissioning a man to the gospel ministry.

It is hard to imagine, but Elisha went on to do even greater things than Elijah. (2 Kings 2:9). It all began when a man answered a call to ministry.  It was recognized by all around him and a feast to mark the special occasion was celebrated by all.

We may have cake and a chicken dinner today.  Whatever is used to mark the occasion – know that it is an occasion worthy of respect, honor, and recognition.

 

 

 

Be Like Zach

Be Like Zach

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Remember the days when people would say: “Be like Mike.”  On the basketball court, winning and work ethic could be found in Michael Jordan.  Kids would wear his shoes, shoot the ball like him, dress like him, and even walk like him.  I still like to see the shoulder shrug a player emulates on the basketball court after a made shot.

There is a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus, or Zach that can be a help to us today.  With many people searching for meaning and purpose, we can learn from his story the reality we are living in.

Zaccheus was loaded.  He had a large house.  He had the best the day in age he lived had to offer.  He was one of the richest people in his hometown.  His wealth was gotten through hard work, deceit, and a driven personality.

Throughout his whole life, he set out to prove his worth.  Being a man short in stature, he probably felt that if he became a big man in material things, then people would see him as a big man.

No- one likes to be the kid picked on because of size, weight, height, ability, smarts, or lack of athleticism.  Zaccheus was that boy who became an “overachiever” to try to make up for his being shorter than most of the other boys.  For him, he thought, becoming rich was the thing that could help him most.

Zaccheus lived in a place called Jericho.  Hundreds of years before, Jericho was a Canaanite stronghold.  If you read Joshua Chapter 6 you will discover how the Lord knocked the seemingly impenetrable walls down for His people to go in to possess their Promised Land.  During the time of Christ, the city of Jericho was built a short distance away from those ruins of Joshua’s day.

Zaccheus is a big man in Jericho.  He is known to be ruthless, rich, and even as a traitor.  “Publicans” in the Bible is not short for a political party – it is term for the Tax Collectors from the Roman Empire.  Most of the Jewish people saw Zaccheus as a traitor for he worked for the Roman government who controlled Israel.  In addition, the tax collectors were notorious for overcharging the tax rate.  For example, if 80 denari was due, they would charge 100 and keep the rest for themselves.  People did not like the tax collectors because of this. Zach was symbolic of the men who got rich off the backs of their own countrymen.

One day, a Person Who had a large following of people passed through Jericho.  Zaccheus was one to “keep his ears to the ground.”  As the “Chief” publican, he had many people working for him and he enjoyed hearing news of people’s successes so he would know when to increase their taxes.  It was Jesus who was passing through the city, teaching and helping people.

Zaccheus had a big problem however.  Like the Bible teaches, “worry” cannot add to our stature, or make us taller or healthier, riches cannot buy inches or good health either (Matthew 6:27).  Zach could not see.  He was too short and the large crowd was too tall.

Zach runs ahead in the direction he sees Jesus walking.  He climbs up a sycamore tree and peers down to Jesus as He walks in his direction.  Jesus looks up and tells Zaccheus to “Come down.”  Jesus then says he wants to “abide” or spend some time at Zaccheus’s house.

His house was probably one of the larger, nicer houses in Jericho.  The people however were upset that Jesus would sit down to eat dinner and spend some time in the house of a “sinner.”

The truth is – all humans are sinners – not just cheats and thiefs.  Romans 3:23 informs: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 continues, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We need the gift of eternal life.

As Jesus talks with Zach, he explains the purpose of His mission.  Jesus lets everyone know the purpose for his trip to Earth and His reason for coming into this world.  “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus came to earth to find people who were “lost” in their sin.  Zaccheus was rich and powerful, but he was spiritually lost.  There are others who are religious and educated, but lost.  There are others still who are poor or not healthy, and are lost too.

The human condition is a “lost” condition without Jesus.  The first and greatest missionary was Jesus.  He came to earth on a mission of mercy, love and grace.

  • Mercy so we do not get what we deserve – Hell.
  • Grace so we can get what we do not deserve – Heaven.
  • And Love because He values and cherishes us more than new could ever fully understand. Love is a choice. Romans 5:8 teaches, “But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Our value as humans does not come from financial status, our last names, the location we live, the job or title we hold, or the abilities we have acquired.  Our value and worth comes from God.  God loves us.  He loves you!  God created you.  He made you and has given you life and opportunity.  Don’t be like Zach in trying to find value in all the wrong places.  Be like Zach when he invited Jesus into his heart and life.

Zaccheus was a changed man.  Jesus said “This day is salvation come to this house.”  When a person is “born again” he has a new life in Christ things are different than before. Love, purpose, and priorities all shift to more meaningful things. Zach paid back 4 times over the money he had stolen.  He started to conduct his life and work in a responsible, loving way. He had eternal life and he now knew that his value was found in God and his value was from God, not his money, stature, house, location, or the job he held.

Three truths to take away:

  1. Know your value comes from God – not your circumstances.
  2. Embrace Jesus, the only Way to Heaven. Trust His work on the Cross and believe in His resurrection.
  3. Serve in the ministry. Missions work and Gospel work is the work of the Christian.  Tell someone about Jesus.  Participate in your church missions program.  Pray for missionaries to go – then help them get there following the footsteps of Jesus.

 

 

 

The Initiative of Missions

The Initiative of Missions

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  John 20:21

The tomb was empty.  The disciples were hiding in the Upper Room.  Jesus shows up.  He appears in the middle of the room even with all the doors and windows of the Upper Room closed.  The resurrected Savoir speaks about peace, the peace of God.  Then He directs the attention of the mesmerized disciples to the thought that just as the Father sent Jesus on a mission of rescue, Jesus was now sending His disciples.  He then enables them with the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Later in Acts 1 they are empowered by His Spirit.  Jesus initiates the call to participate in missions.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called with the same calling.  We are to go into this world and preach the Gospel.  While not everyone will be in ministry “vocationally” we are all in the ministry of giving out the Gospel.  You can help your church witness by giving out Gospel tracts and inviting people to church.  Concerning missions; Praying, giving and going are all important aspects.  You may be involved in praying and giving which then provides for those who actually go into vocational missions.  It could be that the Lord calls you to go into missions.

Three thoughts about missions:

Missions is Intentional.  Churches are not planted on accident.  When the disciples went about the world 2000 years ago, they preached, saw people saved, discipled, baptized and local churches formed.  Church planting is the primary goal of missions.  In order to start a church, evangelism and discipleship must take place.  It is good to note that discipleship always starts with evangelism.  It is impossible to truly have one without the other.  We are to “make disciples.”  This is very intentional when planting the seed of the Gospel and watering with the Word.

Missions is an Investment.  Speaking of “grace giving” or “faith promise missions giving” Paul says in Philippians 4:17: “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”  The believers in the church at Philippi were consistent in giving finances to Paul and his mission work.  When a soul was saved, a convert discipled, and a church established, that was fruit added to the account of the believers.  Their financial investment paid off in spiritual dividends.

Missions is Invitational.  The invitation is open to “whosoever will.”  Whether a young child, or a down and out adult, the invitation is still the same.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And in 19:14: “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”   Whether it is here at home or on foreign soil: “Come to Jesus.”  Rich, poor, famous or infamous, healthy or not healthy: “Come to Jesus.”  The invitation is open for all.

It is the Lord who has initiated the call to you and I to be “sent” and to take His message to a needing world.  Are you participating in the evangelism opportunities of your local church?  Are you praying for and giving finances to missions?  Are you willing to go if the Lord calls you to vocational missions?

Let the words of Jesus resonate in your mind: “Even so send I you…

 

The Calling of God on Your Life

The Calling of God on Your Life

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God… 1 Corinthians 1:1

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“What am I supposed to do with my life?” is a question everyone will ask at some point in their life.  The Lord can answer that question for you!  Every Christian has a calling on their life.  The Lord desires for each Christian to dedicate their life to serve Him.  Romans 12:1-2 speak about this dedication.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”   

As we read the first verse of I Corinthians, we learn that Paul was called to be an Apostle.  Apostles were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Paul met Jesus while he was on his way to persecute Christians in the town of Damascus.  His name was Saul at the time, but when he met Jesus, his life was changed, his name was changed, and he then begins to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with his life, answering the call to be an apostle.  Today, there are no eyewitnesses to the life of Christ, so there can be no apostles.  However, you can be a disciple of Christ.  You could become a pastor, missionary, evangelist, teacher, or a deacon.  At some point this year, the Lord may show you His calling for your life.  Have you found the will of God yet?  All of us as believers are Disciples of Christ: The Lord calls Christians to be school teachers, engineers, mechanics, and airplane pilots.  Kent  Hughes tells the following missionary story:

“A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her. In the afternoon, just before school let out, she made her way to the front door. As the boys came out when school was dismissed, she would stop one and ask if he knew how to read French. When he said “Yes” she would ask him to read the verse that was marked in red. Then she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and tell him about Christ. The missionary said that twenty-four of the school boys that lady led to the Lord became pastors.”  All of us can serve God in some meaningful way!

In addition to everyday disciples, the Lord also calls preachers and missionaries.   It could be at summer Bible camp.  It could happen at mission conference, revival meeting, or church service – the Lord could show you His calling for your life.  What will you do?  Will you follow His will?  Jonah, the Old Testament preacher to Nineveh, ran the other way when God showed him His calling for his life.  Jonah did not want to preach at Nineveh.  You don’t have to be like Jonah, be like Paul and answer the call to serve the Lord, fulfilling His will in His life.  We may call this “Responding to the Call.”   Pray about what the Lord will have you do with your life.  Sports, entertainment, and other activities can be good, but they can also pull you away from the will of the Lord.  A girlfriend or boyfriend, or a relationship can be good, but make sure you respond to God’s call first.  Making money and holding down a job can be fine, but make sure that you respond to God’s call to serve Him in whatever service is His will for your life.

Another important part of God’s calling on our lives is Recognition of God’s Call to MinistryThe Bibles says in I Timothy 1:12, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…”  After the Lord called Paul to Ministry, the calling was confirmed in Paul’s life by three things.  They were the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God.  Whenever the Lord calls people into ministry today, all three affirmations are still needed.  I have met people that do now know how the Lord called them to serve in a particular way.  I have also met Christians who say, they do not care about what other Christians say about their calling.  Attitudes like this can be dangerous.  There have been many cults and heretical teachings that develop with people reacting this way.  If you feel called to “vocational ministry” check for these three:

The Word of God is the first way to know God’s call.  Paul had a burning desire to “preach the Word.”  He had a love for the Bible and an intense desire to see people saved and churches established.  This calling of the Word never contradicts the Bible in method or practice and Paul met all the qualifications to enter into full-time vocational ministry.  Be sure to read the Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus to see the Bible’s qualifications for ministers.  Secondly, the Spirit of God is given to us to direct and guide us.  Acts 1:8 tell us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses.  You may have a quiet spirit, but the Lord can embolden you and every Christian to tell others about Christ.  The Spirit of God will direct those called to say “yes” to the call.  Finally, there are the People of God.  I have known some believers that want to enter full-time ministry, but their church will not recognize them as a pastor or missionary.  Perhaps they have doctrinal error they hold to.  Perhaps their personality choices come across brash or unkind.  Maybe they are gossipers or rebellious to authority.  Perhaps they have not yet received proper ministry training.  A Bible based church would not recognize a call unless these matters are cleared up.  The people of God recognize and re-affirm God’s call on a Bible qualified candidate for ministry, who is Spirit led and Spirit filled.  This can be done in an Ordination service.  If you ever have the chance to attend an Ordination Council and service, I hope that you take advantage of that.  You will learn much Bible doctrine if you attend, and you will also see the recognition of God’s people on a man for the Lord.  It takes Paul about 8 years after his conversion to Christianity that we know him as the “Apostle Paul.”  Consider this:  In Acts 9 we find Paul meeting Christ and being saved.  Galatians 1:17-18, Paul tells us what he did after being saved:  “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”   Paul took time away from everyone to meet with the Lord and to study.  We look at this time as preparation for Gospel Ministry.  He was a man who knew the Hebrew Bible better than most, and now he was going to be used of the Lord to preach and even write parts of the New Testament.   (By the way, an important note to make for today is preparation for ministry.  Bible College takes about four years.  Teacher training takes at least four years.)  Even with three years passing, some people still doubted Paul was for real.  Some of the local church leaders still thought of Paul as “Saul the Persecutor.”   With the help of Barnabas, church leaders start to see Paul as a servant of the Lord.  In Acts 9:29-30, Barnabas introduces Paul to the church in Jerusalem.  They listen to Paul, but are not ready to work with him yet.  They send him to his hometown of Tarsus.  Paul stays there for five more years after which Barnabas, who is preaching in Antioch, sends for Paul to have Paul help him minister the Word (Acts 11:25-26).  It was while Paul started his ministry with Barnabas that the believers in Antioch were first called “Christians.”   It took eight years for Paul to be recognized by others in the ministry.  After this, we find Paul in active ministry: traveling, establishing churches, preaching messages, and sending letters to the churches.

Paul had the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God confirm the calling of God on his life.   A life in ministry without these three affirmations will be difficult and will probably not last very long.  Be patient, serve the Lord and grow in the opportunities that open up to you.  Avoid forcing yourself into a position your pastor or other spiritual leaders know that you are not prepared for…yet.

If you are not called to ministry, that is OK too.  Be sure that you support your church leaders and support those who are in vocational ministry.  Your service in helping ministers is important!  I heard Evangelist Byron Foxx say: “Every Christian should either be a preacher or be helping a preacher.”  Those that are not preachers should be helping their preacher in advancing the Gospel.  

Are you called to ministry?  Do you have these three affirmations in your life?  At this point in my life, I have been preaching for around 15 years.  I remember the moments in my life when I saw these affirmations for ministry calling.  I am like Paul in saying, that I am thankful the Lord has called me to ministry.  Seek the will of the Lord, and God will show you His will.  When He does show you, follow it with all of your heart!