AM I CALLED TO BE A MISSIONARY? PART 4
This is the final post in our missionary call series. We hope that the Lord has spoken to your heart as you have worked though the previous posts.
In the last post, we saw that there is evidence to support the claim that, if one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness, there is little to fear in terms of missing God’s call. We made the point that, just like the children of Israel following the deliverance from Egypt, they were not responsible to find the promised land. They were responsible to follow the cloud and the pillar. God would lead them as long as they were faithful in what they knew to do.
That’s what Augustine meant when he said, “Love God and do as you please.”
Loving God will have an effect on obedience to what you already know to do and will also have an effect on the decisions you make. But loving God is the key.
So, what does loving God look like? How can we put ourselves in the spot where we can believe that the decisions we make accord with the will of God?
We know that God’s purpose in His dealings with His children is conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” That is to say, to make us Christ like or holy. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to strive for holiness, without which we will not see God. So how do I pursue this holiness? How do I become more like Jesus Christ?
We find a pretty clear answer in 1 Timothy 4:7-8: “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Here, Paul tells Timothy that he needed to train or discipline himself for godliness, making the connection to an athlete who undertakes some physical training or discipline for the sake of sport. In the same way that an athlete undergoes physical training to become proficient at some physical activity, so the child of God must undergo spiritual training to become proficient at holiness.
The obvious question to be asked here is, so what are these training activities that will make me more Christ like and put me in a good place to follow God’s leading in my life? I am glad you asked.
There are a number of contemporary authors who have written significant books about this very topic – spiritual disciplines.
Richard Foster wrote “Celebration of Discipline” in 1978. More recently, Donald Whitney has written “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.” In his introduction to this book, Whitney states that there are three main catalysts that God uses to change our lives and make us more holy but only one is largely under our control.
He uses people to change us – the iron sharpens iron principle. He also uses circumstances – God works out all things for the good of those who love Him. And He uses spiritual disciplines. This catalyst differs from the other two in that when God uses the spiritual disciplines to change us, He is working from the inside out. And we must remember that there is a specific purpose for these disciplines and that is godliness or holiness. And this godliness or holiness is the place where we will most naturally follow God’s will or His direction for us.
Do you wonder what these spiritual disciplines are? You can probably guess some of them already, but you may be surprised by some that are in the list. We will list them to finish this blog post and then in the next year we will occasionally pull one of the disciplines out and examine it. Our prayer is that God will challenge each one of us to a deeper walk with Him resulting in holiness.
Here is the list of spiritual disciplines:
And don’t forget that the purpose of engaging in each of these disciplines is godliness. We are not saved by doing these things. Only God can save. But we are made more godly, more Christ like by the practice of these disciplines.
Do you already do some of these disciplines regularly? Which of these are surprises? Is there one or two that might be more challenging for you? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
CHRISTMAS AND MISSIONS
One of the great privileges of working with a missions organization is the opportunity to see how many connections there are between missions and various parts of Scripture. And there is a connection between Christmas and missions.
So what does Christmas have to do with missions? I’m glad you asked.
Biblically, missions should never be far from the center of our Christmas celebrations, for two reasons:
First, Jesus is the greatest example of a cross-cultural missionary. For missions concerns crossing cultural boundaries, we, the church of Jesus Christ, must send missionaries cross-culturally if we are to fulfill the task our Lord gives us: Bringing worshipers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation to Him. And, think about it: Who crossed the greatest cultural divide ever? Jesus Himself! He came from the glory of the throne-room of God into the womb of a woman, and then into a feeding trough for cattle. What an example!
Second: Jesus is more than an example. Jesus became man in order to purchase for His own possession ONE people made up of all the peoples of the earth. He came so that all will see that NO CULTURAL BARRIER will keep people from God. He came so that God will be praised in EVERY language. He came so that the purpose of the creation of every people group would be fulfilled, and that purpose is to glorify God.
So for a true believer in Jesus – as opposed to someone who is simply a cultural Christian – Christmas should be a time of particular focus on the task that Christ gives His church. The task is similar to our Lord’s cross-cultural journey. The task is made possible by His incarnation. The task is crossing cultural barriers, going even to hard, resistant peoples – even when that is uncomfortable and dangerous – for God’s glory, for our joy, for the joy of those peoples.
We believe Prayer is the battlefield for fruitfulness and we depend on it for a successful ministry. We ask you to consider joining our prayer team in any of the following ways. Click here to learn more.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21
Merry Christmas from all of us at OMS Canada.
AM I CALLED TO BE A MISSIONARY? PART 3
Identifying the Missionary ‘Call’
While God can certainly give us inner promptings, His will does not need finding because it was never lost. It is in Scripture.
Are you “called” to be a missionary?
Discovering God’s will for your life can be daunting. What if I miss God’s best? What if it’s outside my comfort zone? What if I can’t hear God’s voice? What if I misunderstand it? What if I misinterpret it? These questions can create some very real anxiety—or avoidance.
Nevertheless, God does not want us frozen by fear. While God certainly can give us inner “nudges,” His will does not need to be found because it was never lost. His complete, entire will is contained in His Word. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises…. (2 Peter 1:3a, 4a)
The Bible reveals God’s will: for us to disciple the nations. That is the big picture. To be sure, Scripture does not tell us everything. God’s plan for the details of our individual lives are often secret (Deuteronomy 29:29). However, if we simply obey what we know, He will guide us:
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way. (Psalm 37:23)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
We cannot decipher God’s sovereign will for every detail of our future. It is futile to try—God, after all, “frustrates the plans of the peoples” (Psalm 33:10). But God has given us a quite comprehensive guide on how to conduct ourselves in a manner that pleases Him and conforms us to the image of His son. And within those parameters, we actually have freedom to choose what we enjoy.
It is not unlike the responsibility the Israelites had as they made their way from Egypt to the Promised Land through the wilderness. They were not told to find the land of promise. They were simply to follow the cloud and the pillar, day after day after day. As they did day by day what they knew to do, God led them exactly where they needed to go.
Augustine wrote, “Love God and do as you please.” In other words, if we truly love God and are doing the day-by-day things we know to do, our aim will certainly be to please Him.
“To know the will of God we need an open Bible and an open map.” William Carey
Does that free us to live for our own pleasures? Hardly. “To whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We are accountable to live intentionally, wisely, and submissively for God’s glory, not selfish benefit. And if we trust that God’s will is sufficiently revealed in Scripture, we will begin to see His missionary heart bleeding through every page—and we will sense that we are all called in some way, whether as goers or senders, to engage that mission.
Therefore, as William Carey, missionary to India, stated, “To know the will of God we need an open Bible and an open map.” The question of calling is not one of waiting to see a flashing neon sign over a world map or feel a “liver-quiver” when someone mentions the right country—it’s about assessing your abilities, circumstances, desires, and the opportunities in light of the global need.
For more information about the global need, read this post about the Billion.global vision.
How are you participating in the Missionary call?
NOT JUST AN ORDINARY TRIP
Do you enjoy taking trips? Isn’t it exciting to visit new places and simply take a break from the day to day?
We all do enjoy taking a trip every once in a while and it is important to take these times of rest. It’s also important to take a life-changing trip- a Mission trip.
What is the difference anyways?
Here are a few examples of a vacation trip and a mission trip for comparison:
We can see that there are some similarities and also some key differences that we can really be blessed by on a Mission trip.
In the Bible, we see many different verses that reveal God’s heart to us regarding Missions.
Let’s look at 4 of them today:
People are God’s most treasured creation and it is God’s heart to see all nations come into a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can be assured that as we go, God will go with us and never leave us. This is very comforting to know as we step into a place where we have never been before.
2. Acts 13:47 “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Light helps us to see clearly, light brings new perspective, and we are light to those who have not yet heard or responded. What an amazing honor that the God who created the universe uses vessels like us for His work.
3. Romans 10:13-14 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
We have heard the saying before- if someone had a cure to an illness and they never shared it with anyone, how would anyone get better? The news would need to be shared. We have a relationship with the One who created everything, the One who gives perfect peace, the One who gives hope in hopeless situations. We must share the good news of Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings.
4. Psalm 96:3 “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
It’s important to share God’s goodness with others. God is holy, He is awesome, and there is none like Him. Let’s make a commitment to share this Love with others. It will change situations; it will even change us in the process.
Why Missions then?
Vacation trips are very necessary because we do need a break from our daily routines once in a while. I encourage you to go on vacation when you can and I also challenge you to go on a Mission trip if you already haven’t. There are people out there who need Jesus and God has given us specific gifts and talents to reach those people.
Take a look here at some Mission Opportunities that we have with OMS Canada.
There is also this great resource which outlines 10 Steps to becoming an OMS Missionary. You can check it out here.
You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine.
Welcome back to our second installment in the series ‘Am I Called to Be a Missionary.'
As mentioned last week, the idea of a Missionary Call is a frequent topic of discussion at missions events and conferences. People are so concerned about getting it wrong that they would rather not do something unless they know that God has not called them to do so. We hope to bring some clarity to this topic of the Missionary Call.
So let’s get to Part two.
Is Everyone Called to be a Missionary?
With missions defined, next we ask, “What is a missionary?” And Scripture has a surprising answer.
Some have said that the word “missionary” is not in the Bible, but that isn’t quite true. We derive words like missionary and missions from the Latin missio, which simply means sending. The Greek equivalent is apostelló, from which the word apostle comes. While there were only twelve Apostles—“sent ones”—commissioned by Jesus to lay the foundation of the church, in a broader sense, anyone who is “sent” carrying the gospel message is a similar type of missionary ambassador.
We would think, then, that a missionary is simply sent to win as many converts as possible. But that wasn’t the Apostle Paul’s job description. After spending only a short time traversing the Roman Empire and planting churches in a handful of key towns, Paul says, “[F]rom Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19). How had he “fulfilled” the ministry of the gospel—as in, mission accomplished--when millions of lost people remained throughout the Roman world?
It is not the missionary’s aim, necessarily, to see every single individual won to faith. Rather, a missionary is one who serves in a culture long enough to see a healthy church form, full of converts capable of evangelizing the rest of their people. Paul established churches as beachheads to ensure that the gospel would spread. When a healthy church with qualified leaders was planted and ready to own the mission for themselves, Paul’s work was done.
In recent years, a terribly disproportionate number of missionaries have been sent to minister in places that have already been “reached”—where there are sufficient evangelical believers already present to evangelize the rest. According to the Joshua Project, more than 90% of “missionaries” serve “reached” people groups.
Meanwhile, the “unreached”—those who have little or no access to the gospel, with no churches or believers in their context to share with them—comprise about 7,000 people groups. That totals about nearly 4 billion people who have never heard of Christ. Most of these people groups live in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, India, and the Pacific Islands, a region of the world known as the 10/40 Window (based on lines of latitude and longitude).
Unlike most unbelievers the North America and Europe who could easily hear the gospel through a Christian friend or nearby church, unreached people generally have no churches to visit, friends to call, or sermons to stumble upon on the radio. Though some may have heard of a “Jesus,” they have never understood the gospel itself. They are lost.
God may be drawing you to become a Pauline-type, pioneering missionary, “fulfilling the ministry of the gospel” among people who will otherwise perish without hearing about Jesus. Or perhaps he is leading you to be a Timothy-type missionary who comes in after the pioneer to strengthen and build young communities of faith (1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Not everyone can be a missionary. However, everyone can have a part in the bigger task—by going, sending, supporting, or mobilizing others.
Either way, a missionary is not just an adventurous, free spirit stirred by a noble social cause. A missionary preaches the gospel with the aim of starting churches that can reach people groups among whom Jesus is not yet known and worshiped.
To repeat, it is clear that not everyone can be a missionary. However, everyone can have a part in the bigger task—by going, sending, supporting, or mobilizing others. What is your role?
Do you long to devote your life to this task? Do you have the desire to cross cultural boundaries, or help send those who do? If so, God’s Spirit may be directing you. We implore you to pray, study God’s Word, and obey God wherever He leads. Eternity hangs in the balance for billions.
Check out the ways that OMS Canada can help you make an impact on reaching the unreached.
Click here to visit our website.
Stay tuned for Part three in this series!