I remember growing up, I was very active and enjoyed playing various sports. Even if it wasn’t a sport that I particularly enjoyed or was good at, I would often still try out. And what a feeling it was, when I would be chosen to be a part of the team. The experiences built my confidence, allowed me to try something different, and kept me active. Just a few years later, while I do hope to have that same energy, I embrace the fact that I am still chosen today in a much more wonderful way.
You are chosen. What do those words mean to you? Who has chosen you? And why have you been chosen? Let’s look at this important topic today and discover what the Bible says about us being chosen.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10
What a beautiful verse that reminds us that we were once not the people of God, but by His mercy we are the people of God. It is good to be reminded of this as we go about our journey of faith.
Let’s look at couple of reasons why we are chosen today:
1- We are chosen for good works
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
God has prepared us for good works and some of these works are: to be more like Him through the Holy Spirit, to share the Good news of salvation, to share the love of God with others, and to have a personal relationship with God. These things are not done on our own strength, and we must depend on God as we live day to day.
2- We are chosen for God’s purposes
“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:2
We all have plans but we must remember that we are chosen for God’s purposes, and not our own. When we care about what God cares about, our plans start to align with God’s purposes in our lives and we begin to see fruit that we would not be able to see if we did not surrender our plans to God.
3- We are chosen because God loves us
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1
There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about this great love that God has for us. As a parent, we do not always agree with our children, but we have a special love for them. And how much more does God love us? A lot more! The love God has for us is unconditional. There is nothing more we could do to make God love us more and nothing less we can do to make God love us less. He loves us. He loves you. You are His chosen child.
4- We are chosen to share the Good News with others
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all
creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever
does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany
those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will
speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and
when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will
place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 16:15-18
After Jesus spoke these words, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). We are chosen to share the wonderful news of Jesus with other people. Are you called to be a missionary? If you have not read this blog series, be sure to check it out.
While not everyone can be a missionary, everyone can have a part in the bigger task—by going, sending, supporting, or mobilizing others. Jesus is allowing us to take part in some way.
You are chosen and you are loved. Who can you share this with today? We are all in need of some encouragement these days, so let’s be a source of encouragement to someone else today. God bless you as you continue to love Jesus and live for Him.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:9-10
So this is it, the last post in this series called God’s Heart for the Nations.
Thus far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people. We have learned how God reveals His heart for the nations in the Psalms and Prophets and that Jesus was and isthe Saviour of the world, not just the Jews. We saw how Jesus made it clear to his disciples that His purpose is global and included all nations and we learned that the book of Acts makes it very clear that God’s message is to reach the ends of the earth.
Every disciple of Jesus Christ should be committed to the process of developing a lifestyle that reflects and participates daily in the mission of God. One of the blessings of salvation is that we have been freed from the slavery of living for self so that we might live engaged in His mission (2 Corinthians 5:15). Our natural inclination is to develop self-centred faith. It is essential that every follower of Christ develop themselves biblically, spiritually, and practically in relation to the global mission of God to the ends of the earth.
Intimacy and Mobilization
Conventional wisdom has told us that the way you mobilize people toward missions is to get them on a mission trip. I cannot count the number of missionaries to whom we have spoken that point to a short term mission trip as the turning point for them. But, if that is the foundational motivation for missions, it may suggest that the primary motive is man’s need, and that we are persuaded to be involved through experiences. But consider what we see about knowing God in the following Scriptures.
Psalm 46:10 is that verse to which we often come back as the basis for God being known and exalted in all the earth. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Knowledge of God is essential.
Hosea 6:6 tells us that God desires knowledge of Himself over burnt offerings and steadfast love over sacrifice. True knowledge of God is the supreme motivation for any sort of service.
Philippians 3:7-11 records Paul’s motivation for the work he did. He says that he counts everything as loss in comparison to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord.
A biblically based pursuit of knowing God will result in a life committed to His mission. As you passionately pursue the knowledge of God, He will infuse His heart, purpose, perspective, and mission into your life.
In the first post in this series, you saw that God does all things for His name, renown, and glory. This is His ultimate mission. He is the one that motivates, directs, and empowers His people to accomplish His mission. When this passion becomes the driving force in your life, them mission trip experiences and information about the needs of a nation can lead you to make wise decisions, not decisions based in guilt or momentary excitement.
To mobilize may be defined as “to assemble or marshal into readiness for active service.” In the missions’ community, the term is often confused with missions’ recruitment. If you are not going someplace, you can always be a sender, an intercessor, or a giver. But our readiness for active service is not about selecting a title or role in the mission’s subculture created by the Church. Rather, our readiness for active service is demonstrated by a biblical lifestyle transformation. We have been liberated from the slavery of living for ourselves. We are mobilized when Christ is the passion of our lives and the cause of Christ guides our life decisions.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have gone and the new has come. This is the biblical transformation referred to above. And the new things include the proper motivations for service.
Romans 12:1-2 says much the same thing. We are living sacrifices, which is our spiritual worship. This means that we die to our old passions and motivations and are alive to new ones, which come about as our mind is renewed so that we may discern rightly the will of God.
Mobilization flows from who we are in Christ. Spiritual disciplines are the spiritual exercises that we do in order to walk by faith in the reality of our new life in Christ. One of the first steps in developing a global context in this new life in Christ is to integrate a global perspective in these spiritual disciplines. We have already looked at the spiritual disciplines in another series of blogs.
Plot Your Course
The next step is to examine your current position in terms of God’s global mission. When you think about God purpose or His mission, do you think in terms of your own context? Do your thoughts extend to the next town or the next county? What about another country? Or a specific people group? I hope they do, for the sake of His name and His fame.
We would like to speak to you about this. If you have any questions, give us a call or drop them into the comments section below.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
So far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people. We have learned how God reveals His heart for the nations in the Psalms and Prophets and that Jesus was and isthe Saviour of the world, not just the Jews. Last time we saw how Jesus made it clear to his disciples that His purpose is global and included all nations.
In this post, we will see the implications of Jesus' mandate in Acts 1:8 where he tells his followers that they (and we) will be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.
The book of Acts takes us on the journey of the Church’s obedience to Jesus Christ’s global mandate. It wasn’t immediate obedience, however. In fact, Don Richardson calls it reluctant obedience. The disciples were hesitant to move beyond their cultural bias, but God would be proactive to thrust the Church out to accomplish His purpose voluntarily or involuntarily.
Acts 2:1-13 marks the beginning of the new era that Jesus initiated. He had been telling his disciples the things that were going to happen, He would be killed, buried, and resurrected. He spent many days reassuring them of His love and His plan to use them in the phase that was to come. But before that could happen they needed to wait in Jerusalem for a helper to be given, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus named in Acts 1:4-5 and who John the Baptist refers to in Mark 1:8.
In Acts 2:4 Luke tells us that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. Then in Acts 2:11, Luke gives further clarification about what he meant by ‘other tongues’. This event took place during the feast of Pentecost, and Jerusalem was filled with devout Jews from every nation. When the group of 120 from the upper room began to speak in other tongues, these devout Jews from every nation heard the Galileans from the upper room telling about the wonderful things God has done.
When you consider that this Pentecost is the beginning of the church it becomes evident that there are a couple of significant implications. First, Jesus has given the message. Recall that he spent almost three years teaching these people the message of the kingdom. That the kingdom is at hand and to repent and believe the good news of God. And now he gives the means for global distribution of the message - the languages of all nations.
A problem appears, though, in that the disciples do not seem to move beyond Jerusalem. Remember the instruction from Jesus in Acts 1:8 was that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. But Acts 5:28 and Acts 6:7 give clear indications that the word is spreading very well through Jerusalem but not to Judea, Samaria, or the ends of the earth.
Many missions-minded leaders believe that Acts 8:1 is God’s solution to their lack of obedience to Jesus’ instruction in Acts 1:8. In chapter 8, we see the persecution that breaks out against the church following the death of Stephen. Isn’t it interesting how Luke records what happened?
“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles,” (Acts 8:1)
As a result of the persecution, they were all scattered to Judea and Samaria. This is exactly what Jesus said would happen. And so it did.
Then, the rest of the book of Acts records the progress of the gospel out from Jerusalem.
Acts 8:4-8 record the trip of Philip into the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. In this instance, we see the use by God of signs and wonders accompanying the message and resulting in great joy among the people.
We also see Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. An angel told him to go to the south to a specific road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. On that road, Philip was told to go and join himself to the chariot. When he was there, he heard the Ethiopian reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading. He couldn’t understand because he had no one to explain it to him. Beginning with the passage in Isaiah, Philip explained the good news of Jesus Christ and the eunuch believed and was baptized.
Do you think the eunuch kept this good news to himself? Not likely. It’s reasonable to assume that he shared this good news with everyone he knew in Ethiopia. That’s in Africa, in case you didn’t know. The good news is spreading.
We could also mention the divine appointment that Peter had with Cornelius and the way that God changed the mind of many concerning the ministry to Gentiles (the nations).
But the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1-21 was a turning point. You see, because of the success that Paul was having among the Gentiles, there were those in Judea who were saying that unless one was circumcised according to the custom of Moses, one could not be saved. According to Luke, Paul and Barnabas had some heated debates with them about this. It was then decided that Paul and Barnabas would be sent to Jerusalem, to the apostles and the elders about this question.
Along the way they passed through Pheonicia and Samaria where they told of the Gentile conversion stories and bringing great joy to the brothers and sisters, who were also Gentiles.
Paul argued from his calling to the Gentiles to the evidence of God working among the Gentiles to save them by grace, just as He had the Jews. He bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to the Jews. And it is clear that they have had their hearts cleansed by faith.
Then James, who was the leading elder in the Church in Jerusalem rendered his judgement. He stated that he agreed with Peter’s testimony (in the case of Cornelius) that God was again choosing for Himself a people from among the Gentiles and that the (Old Testament) Scriptures agree. Therefore, there was no reason to trouble these Gentile believers beyond those stipulations mentioned in verse 20.
This decision at the Jerusalem Council freed the gospel and the church from a single cultural expression. The question facing the leaders of the church was, “Is this new movement just another sect of Judaism or the dynamic Church of Jesus Christ finding faithful expression in all the ethne (peoples) of the earth?”
The question of the ages is not whether God’s promise to Abram will be fulfilled and disciples will be made from all nations. The Bible guarantees that God’s global purpose will be accomplished. The evidence is in Revelation 7:9-10.
The question is, will our generation of the Church be obedient to the mandate of Jesus Christ and participate in completing the task? And will I walk with Him, obey His command, and be strategically involved in His global purpose?
How do you answer these questions? If you do wish to be strategically involved in His global purpose, but just don’t know where to start, give us a call and we can help you figure this out. There are so many opportunities to be involved close to home that there really is no excuse not to be involved.
It’s now been a little over a year where we have been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. We have had to adjust the way we do things, the way we communicate with others, the way we spend time with others, and even the way in which we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are now living in times where there are certain things that are defined as essential and others that are not. So, let’s start by defining essential; what does this mean?
According to dictionary.com essential means: absolutely necessary, indispensable.
Other words for essential are: crucial, fundamental, and necessary.
Whatever we refer to as essential is important and has value. While this may mean something different for each person, today let’s look from a Biblical perspective for a few reasons why missions is essential.
1. God is glorified through the work of missions
“Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.” 1 Chronicles 16:24
By sharing the Good News with others, God is glorified. We only have a small part that we play but we should always remember that missions is all about God and bringing glory to Him. When we have this focus, we are not concerned about worldly things or any inadequacies we may have in the process. We are simply vessels and we have a great God who gives us the wonderful opportunity to share the love of Jesus with others.
2. Missions is important to God
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And
surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
The Great Commission includes some of the most beautiful and powerful words that Jesus spoke, and these words are still for us today. Jesus came so that we could be reconciled to God, so that we could one day be with Him and God forever, and this is great news that we are commanded to share with others. Jesus lived out and accomplished the greatest mission and we have the honor of taking part in continuing to share that mission with the world. Missions is important to God.
3. People’s lives are forever touched through missions
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
When we share the Good News with others, their lives are forever touched because God’s word is living and powerful. I have heard several missionaries say that going on a missions trip is one of the most beautiful and life-changing experiences. People are changed, but we who are sharing are also changed. Something truly beautiful happens in these moments that God allows us to experience.
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “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?” Romans 10:10-14
Missions is essential because God is glorified through the work of missions, missions is important to God, and people’s lives are forever touched through missions.
Have you ever been on a mission’s trip or do you hope to go on one in the future? Please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
I encourage you to continue to pray for our missionaries. They are continuing to wait to be able to go back and serve in other countries. May God continue to touch our hearts with the things that are important to Him, in all that we do.
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
So far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people. We have learned how God reveals His heart for the nations in the Psalms and Prophets and last time we saw that Jesus was and isthe saviour of the world, not just the Jews.
In this post, we will learn that early in his ministry Jesus clearly communicated that He was the Messiah and that he had come to be the Saviour of the world. Jesus had less than three years to free his Jewish disciples from their nationalistic cultural biases. It was essential for these disciples to realize that the gospel of the Kingdom is for all peoples and that his mandate was to the nations, not to a nation. Jesus uses events like the ones we will look at in this post to strip away the cultural biases of his followers. We will continue to see how Jesus awakened his disciples to his global purpose, and see some deep personal implications for us today.
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Jesus and the Nations
In the ministry of Jesus there were instances where he ministered to non-Jews. Here are three examples.
Matthew 4:23-25 - And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
In this portion of Matthew, we see Jesus travelling throughout Galilee, which, earlier in verse 15, is described as being of the Gentiles. In Galilee, he taught, proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, and healed every disease and affliction. Matthew also points out that great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, both predominantly non-Jewish, as well as from Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
Matthew 15:21-28 - And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
It’s interesting to note the underlying cultural dynamic that shows in this encounter between Jesus and the woman in Tyre and Sidon. Matthew calls her a Canaanite woman, perhaps to make the point that she is not a Jew. And at the end of the exchange, Jesus commends this Canaanite woman for her faith.
John 4:39-42 - Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
This is the aftermath of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman who lived in Sychar. After her conversation with Jesus, she went back into town and told the people to come and see the man who told me everything I ever did. Many believed and Jesus spent two days with them. And because of his words, many more believed.
The Call to the Nations
After the resurrection, as Jesus moved closer to His ascension to the right hand of the Father; He made it clear that His purpose was global and His mandate was to catapult His followers to the nations. The following passages collectively make up the Great Commission and restate the commission that God gave to Abram which is found in the purpose clause of Genesis 12:3.
Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of God blessing the families of the earth through Abram, as Paul says in Galatians 3:14. His purpose to His followers will never be understood if their only understanding of the Great Commission is gained from Matthew 28:19-20. Full understanding is gained when we study all five of the restatements of the Great Commission given after the resurrection.
Matthew 28:18-20 - This is the most commonly quoted reference of the Great Commission. It is important to understand that when Jesus says ‘nations’, he is not referring to political entities or geographic boundaries. ‘Nations’ comes from the Greek word ‘ethne’ from which we get our English word ‘ethnic’ and refers not to nationalism but ethno-linguistic groupings. There is more information on people groups inthis blog post. It is also important to notice the three verbs that help us understand what discipling the nations involves - go, baptize, and teach.
Luke 24:44-49 - In this record of the Great Commission, Jesus is making it clear to the disciples that, because they are witnesses of what Jesus has taught and done, they have a message to deliver, a message of repentance and forgiveness of sins. And this message is to be delivered to the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. But it is a message for the nations.
John 20:21-23 - John has taken a broader view of his presentation of the Great Commission in that, through his gospel, Jesus speaks often of his ‘sent-ness’. In fact, he refers to being sent by God at least 24 times. And one of the key elements of being sent is that of submission. You submit yourself to the authority of another. So, when Jesus says that He is sending us as the Father sent Him, there is that sense of submission.
Notice that Jesus was not sending them out alone, though, and this is picked up in Luke’s account in Acts 1. He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit. There is no way to overstate the importance of the Holy Spirit and the work He does in terms of gospel work. Be filled with the Spirit.
Acts 1:8 - In the Acts account of the Great Commission, Luke records the importance of the Holy Spirit in the work that they are being commissioned to do. In fact, it is so critical that they were to wait in Jerusalem until they did receive it before they began.
And once begun they were to be witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. To all nations. As witnesses. Preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins. In the power of the Spirit.
So I hope it is clear that the church’s mandate is to the nations and not simply to our neighbourhoods. If you want to know how you can improve your missions involvement, make a call to our office and have a conversation about work among the nations.
Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
So far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people. Last time we learned how God reveals His heart for the nations in the Psalms and Prophets.
In this post, we will learn that one of the biggest challenges Jesus faced in His earthly ministry was to break the disciples of their cultural biases. Even though their Scriptures clearly communicated God’s heart for the nations and that the Messiah was also coming to be a light to the nations, most Jews were looking for a national hero who would establish His reign among the nations. The disciples were just the first layer in Jesus’ strategy of taking the gospel to all nations.
But His disciples were very nationalistic in their perspective of who the Messiah was and what He would come to do. Through His teaching, His ministry to Gentiles, His use of non-Jews as spiritual object lessons, and His mandates, Jesus was intentionally and systematically reshaping their worldview.
We will look at some scriptures with which you may be familiar. But I would challenge you to take your time to discover some new insights.
From the following prophetic statements about the Messiah, what will He come to do and for whom will He come?
Isaiah 42:5-7 - Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Messiah will come to be a covenant, a light for the nations, to open blind eyes, to release prisoners from the darkness in which they sit. And it is clear that He came for the nations.
Isaiah 49:6 - “It is too light a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations,
that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
In this verse, the Messiah will be as a light to the nations so that salvation may reach the end of the earth. And it is clear that He’s come not just for the sons of Jacob, the preserved of Israel.
Matthew 4:12-16 - Now when He heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth He went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
In these verses, which were quoted from Isaiah, the point is made that Jesus chose to make His home base in Capernaum, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, among the Gentiles. This was a strategic move in that, Jews would travel from Jerusalem to see one rumoured to be the Messiah, but Gentiles would not travel to Jerusalem for any reason. And Gentiles were a part of Jesus’ mandate.
So it’s pretty clear that Jesus did not come just for the Jews. He came for the nations.
Fulfilling the Scriptures
Luke 4:14-30 - Please read this portion of Scripture to understand what is going on. Jesus had returned to Nazareth, where He was raised. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of Isaiah was handed to Him and He found the portion He then read (Isaiah 61:1-2). When He had read it and handed the scroll back to the attendant He told those in attendance that this Scripture was being fulfilled in their hearing.
They were duly impressed with His gracious words and marvelled that this was Joseph’s son.
Then Jesus spoke again, telling them that they would doubtless ask Him to perform the sorts of signs and miracles that they heard He did in Capernaum and that a prophet is without honour in His home town. Jesus then made clear the plan of God by referencing two incidents from their Scriptures.
The first was from the time of Elijah. The heavens were shut up three and a half years and a great famine came over the land. And while there were many widows among the Jews in those days, God sent Elijah to a Gentile widow in Zarephath, in the land of Sidon.
The second was from the time of Elisha. Jesus told them that, although there were many lepers among the Jews at the time, none of them was cleansed, but Naaman the Syrian was.
The point is that Jesus made it very clear that, while the Jews would have interpreted the passage quoted by Jesus from Isaiah as referring to the Jews, its application was much broader and included Gentiles (the nations) as well. And this inclusion of the nations was a fulfilment of Scripture.
How did those in the Synagogue respond to this lesson?
Saviour of the World
There is numerous places in Scripture where God makes clear His global perspective, His plan to include the nations.
John 3:16-17 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
Here, Jesus says that whoever believes in Him, Jew or Gentile, would be saved and that His purpose was not to condemn anyone but to provide salvation through Himself. A similar reference is made in John 6:33.
John 8:12 - Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Again, Jesus makes it clear here that the light of the world is for the world, not just the Jews. Whoever follows Him will have the light of life.
John 12:30-32 - Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not Mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to Myself.”
Once again Jesus says that when He is lifted up He will draw all kinds of people to Himself without distinction, all nations.
1 John 4:14 - And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world.
John could not have made it any clearer. The Father sent Jesus to be the Saviour of the world. This was not just Jesus’ purpose, but it was the purpose of the Father.
Disciples of the Saviour
If Jesus is the Saviour of the world this means that you are a disciple of the Saviour of the world.
How do you think this truth should impact your daily walk with Christ?
How should this truth impact the way that you pray?
How should this truth change the way you view people who look different from you?
John 4:39-42 - Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
I remember growing up, Easter was mostly a day for getting together with family and having a good meal. Going to church may have also been something we did, but I vaguely remember that. And I do not ever recall saying a prayer together before we had our meal. This was my typical Easter, among other special celebrations growing up.
A few years later now (ok, maybe more than a few), Easter has a completely new meaning and significance for me and my family. It’s all about Jesus. He came to please the Father and to do His will. This is life-changing for us as Christians, if we truly grasp it.
Before we truly appreciate this wonderful Resurrection Day that we call Easter, let us remember what happened before the resurrection. This is where it starts.
It always amazes and humbles me that Jesus went through everything that He did, to ultimately bring glory and to please the Father. He suffered like no other, in every possible way. This is something that we cannot really understand as human beings. Such a selfless sacrifice.
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
Today, we can have a relationship with God through Christ, because of
the perfect sacrifice that was made. This is something we should remember
daily. As I recall growing up, today this is one of the things I most
appreciate about having a relationship with God. It’s real, it’s a daily thing,
that challenges and encourages me.
So, let’s talk now a little bit about Easter. What a moment that must have been as they found the stone rolled away and the body of Jesus not there (Luke 24:2-3). Jesus had said that He would rise again, but they were still perplexed (Luke 24:4).
As we read on in Luke, Jesus appears to many and shares these beautiful and impactful words:
“He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what My Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
We are all witnesses for Christ. Not because of us or what we have to offer. Because there is an awesome God who loves unconditionally and desires that all would come to know Him (2 Peter 3:9). Did you know that there are people out there who have never heard about Jesus? We are so blessed and honored to know this amazing life-changing news. Let us not take this for granted. God has a heart for the nations and we should also.
As we celebrate Easter, may we remember the sacrifice Jesus made and may we remember the words that He spoke.
If you are reading this at any other time of the year, be encouraged to celebrate and remember these things daily. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can celebrate Him everyday (Hebrews 13:8).
How was Easter for you growing up? Is it any different now? Please share below in the comments. We would love to hear from you!
“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make His face to shine upon us, Selah
that Your way may be known on earth,
Your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
let all the peoples praise You!
So far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people.
In this post, we will learn that we do not worship some tribal deity or the god of a region or a people or a country. We worship the God of all nations. And this truth is plainly seen in the psalms of Israel. The psalms and the prophets reveal God’s heart for the nations, God’s call for the nations to worship Him, and the declaration of praise among the nations by His people.
Let’s look at a few Psalms and learn what God tells the nations to do, what God tells us to do among the nations, and what God is saying to the nations.
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
Now, therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
Remember that when the psalmists use the word “peoples” they are referring to the nations.
In this Psalm, God is acknowledging that the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain, because He is God and He is sovereign over all. He has set His King on Zion and will give to Him the nations as a heritage. Thus He warns the nations and tells them how they ought to behave before the King.
From You comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear Him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.
For kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before Him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve Him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn, that He has done it.
In Psalm 22 we see God saying that all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nations will worship before our Lord. Because kingship belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations. And this will be told about the Lord to the coming generations, coming and proclaiming His righteousness. Lots of worship from the nations.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies come cringing to You.
All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your name.” Selah
Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds towards the children of man.
He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in Him, who rules by His might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations—let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of His praise be heard.
In this psalm, God is telling the whole earth to sing the glory of His name and to give Him not just praise but glorious praise. His wonderful deeds are to be remembered and rehearsed because He rules by His might forever. The peoples are exhorted to bless God and to let the sound of His praise be heard. Again lots of worship from the peoples.
Now let’s look at messages from three prophets.
Jeremiah 1:5, 16:19-21
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to You shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say:
Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.
Can man make for himself gods? Such are not gods!”
“Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know My power and my might, and they shall know that My name is the Lord.”
It is clear in Jeremiah’s call that God had consecrated Jeremiah as a prophet,
not just to Israel, but to the nations. And the verses from chapter 16 show us
that in the day of trouble the nations will come to God from the ends of the
earth and acknowledge the emptiness of the lies inherited from their fathers.
Man cannot make for himself gods, for such are not gods. Thus God will make
them know His power and His might and they shall know that His name is the Lord.
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.
And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
In these two verses from Daniel 7, we see that the son of man was presented before the Ancient of Days so that He would be given an everlasting dominion and glory and a kingdom in which all peoples, nations and languages would serve Him. This kingdom shall not be destroyed.
For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
In this verse from Malachi God reveals that His name will be great among the nations and that in every place Incense (praise) would be offered to His name.
It should be pretty clear by now that God has indeed blessed His people and continues to do so today. But that blessing comes with a responsibility to make His name known among the nations to the end that every people, tongue, tribe, and nation will worship His name and declare His marvellous works.
What about you?
Why do you think that most of us miss the connection between God’s blessing and His purpose and our responsibility in that purpose?
What steps could you take to be more aware of your responsibility to the nations? If you would like more ideas, leave a comment below.
And please share this post with others.
“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
So far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen that mankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
In this post, we will look at passages from the Bible that show how the two themes of God’s blessing and His purpose connect. As God blessed the people of Israel He would show Himself to the nations and draw Gentiles to Himself.
As we work through some familiar portions of the Bible, pay attention to how both themes are wound together. Notice how God’s blessings are used to impact the nations and how individuals respond. Also, take some time to reflect on why you think the second theme of God’s purpose/man’s responsibility is usually ignored when these passages are discussed or preached.
Ten Plagues on Egypt
In the book of Exodus, God undertook to free the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. To do so, He inflicted ten plagues on the Egyptians. A typical reading of the account reveals that God is blessing His people by releasing them. But is that all there is to it?
Exodus 7:5 - “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”
Exodus 7:17 - Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood.”
Exodus 9:13-16 - Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues on you yourself,[a] and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. For by now I could have put out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you My power, so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
Parting of the Red Sea
In the Book of Joshua, we see God parting the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to get away from the Egyptians who were pursuing them. A typical reading of this account shows God continuing to bless His people by protecting them. But is there more to it?
Joshua 4:23-24 - For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
Joshua 2:8-11 - Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
Daniel in the Lion’s Den
Every Sunday School student (do you know what Sunday School is?) can tell you the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. Daniel was very successful in his role as an administrator and a satrap, so much so that the King planned to put Daniel over the whole kingdom. But jealousy drove the other administrators and satraps to find a way to discredit Daniel and knock him down. The only way they could do so was to make it illegal to pray to anyone other than the King because every day, Daniel would pray to God. So they convinced the King to enact this law. Daniel was caught and brought before the King who, although he was fond of Daniel, was bound by the law. So Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. Now, we know that God closed the mouths of the lions and in the morning, Daniel was found to be unharmed.
A typical retelling of this story shows God vindicating Daniel and saving him from an unjust death. But is there more to it?
Daniel 6:25-27 - Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For He is the living God and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed; His dominion will never end. He rescues and He saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Esther and Mordecai
What about the story of Esther and her uncle Mordecai? We know that Haman hated Mordecai because he refused to bow to him and made a plan to destroy the Jews to get rid of Mordecai. The plan became known and Mordecai challenged Esther, at the risk of losing her own life, to go before the King and plead with him to change his mind. And this he did, instead sentencing Haman to death on the very gallows he had constructed for Mordecai.
Again a typical retelling of this story shows God’s blessing of His people by protecting them from an unjust end. But is there more to it?
Esther 8:15-17 - When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. For the Jews, it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honour. In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.
I hope that you’ve been able to see that in each of these stories there is both the blessing of God as well as purpose beyond the obvious.
Can you think of times in your life when you were blessed by God but suspected that there might have been more to the story?
Let’s embrace the truth that we are not the centre of God’s universe, that only God is suited to be the centre and surrender to His purpose and our responsibility to spread His glory among the nations.
“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Have you ever really thought about what it means to be a witness for Christ? Today, we will look at a few verses to learn more about witnessing for Christ and we will also outline 4 practical points on how we can witness for Christ.
First, let’s answer the question of what it means to be a witness for Christ. Being a witness sounds like something simple, but it actually carries a lot of responsibility. When we witness for Christ, we are essentially representing Him and what is important to Him.
As children of God, we experience Him and then bear witness and represent Him to the world. Witnessing can be sharing scripture or sharing our personal testimony/story that testify to God’s love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives. We are all called to be witnesses, regardless of gender, age, etc.
You may say, “I am not gifted in speaking or I really don’t know what to say,” so why should I be a witness? The simple answer is that we are all called to be witnesses.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
I just want to note 3 points from this text before we move ahead.
1. You SHALL receive power WHEN the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
This power that we receive, does not come from us. This is the first thing that we must realize before we witness, because it is not by our own strength. This power that we receive is the empowerment through the Holy Spirit.
2. And you SHALL be witnesses.
There are those words. Once we know that it is through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we then witness for Christ as we are led.
3. In Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
We can be a witness for Christ to our own family members, our neighbours, friends, co-workers, and to all people in the world. God is for all people, and He sent Jesus to die for the world, not just those who are geographically close to us.
Let’s look at 4 practical points on how we can witness for Christ.
1. Start with Prayer
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”
If we are unsure of how we can witness for Christ or who we can witness to, we can pray about it. This is very important and something we must always do. Often times, God will put someone in our heart to speak with and we may not exactly know why, but He does. God knows the heart and the words that we all need to hear.
2. Be sensitive and loving
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
Whatever we are sharing should be done in love. Sometimes you may be witnessing to someone you don’t know very well or at all, so being sensitive and loving is especially important.
3. Read the Bible everyday
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
1 Peter 3:15
The more we read, study, and memorize the Bible, the more we will grow and the more we will be able to share with others. We can be reminded of something we read and use it when we are witnessing to others. Even if we are unsure of some questions that we are asked, we can be honest and say that we can get back to them. As we read, study, and memorize the Bible more, we grow in our knowledge and understanding. It is a continuous learning process for all of us as witnesses for Christ.
4. Trust God for the results
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
1 Corinthians 3:6
Both Paul and Apollos did their part, but it is God who caused the seed to grow. We can be witnesses of Christ, but not see any results right away or at all but this shouldn’t stop us from witnessing. We must continue to be obedient and trust God for the results. It is Him who draws men unto Himself.
Let’s be encouraged as we witness for Christ. God is with us, He has empowered us, and His purposes will be accomplished according to His perfect plan.
Feel free to take a look at our website to learn more about us, our missionaries and projects, and our blog. You can share these with others as you witness for Christ.
Here are a few stories to let you know what OMS is involved in around the world, specifically in Taiwan.
Taiwan (provided by Rod and Beth Williamson - Twelve years ago, Central Taiwan Theological Seminary purchased 18 acres of farmland in northeast Taichung. Three years ago, we began a four-year process of rezoning the land so that it could be used for training pastors. Ten of the fourteen needed approvals have already been received. The eleventh approval from the Environmental Impact Committee is the toughest of all the approvals remaining. Just a few weeks ago, after six months of meetings, the Environmental Impact Committee finally gave its approval. The remaining three approvals should not be difficult, so we hope that in a few months, we can begin the preliminary construction of a retaining wall, contouring the property, roadways, water control, and putting in utilities. This will take about a year. A seminary’s impact is greatly increased when both head and heart are trained, when teaching focuses on knowing about Jesus, and learning how to follow and worship Him in daily life. May this campus be a place where leaders are trained who train many others, leading to the multiplication of leaders … and where Taiwanese missionaries are trained for impactful cross-cultural ministry!
Taiwan (provided by Don and Marla Bettinger) - One of the things that gives us the greatest joy is to see coworkers step up or take the initiative to be a witness to their own people. This Christmas, one of our coworkers, Chyou Ting, shared her testimony at two separate Christmas events. One was a Christmas breakfast we hosted for a number of our unbelieving friends, and the other was a meeting that she initiated on her own. This second one was a “Gospel Teatime” in which she invited several coworkers from the hospital ICU department where she works. She and her friends did the music, shared a testimony, and gave a Gospel presentation. We only needed to open our home and teach the women how to make cookies. At least one of the coworkers made a decision to accept Christ that night. Chyou Ting invited her to the Lighthouse home church this past Sunday evening, and she came. We praise God that Chyou Ting has caught the vision for sharing the Gospel and making disciples.
Taiwan (provided by Mark and Michelle Dinnage) - One of the college-age men
with whom Mark has been able to meet for discipleship is a great person of
peace, gifted in connecting people. He invited fellow classmate, Johanna, to
Bible study. A few months later, Michelle prayed with Johanna to accept
Christ, and then she was baptized in October. Johanna grew up in Honduras
with her mother, who is also a Christian. Johanna has also become closer with
her father, who is Taiwanese. Johanna is now growing daily in her faith.
Lost people matter to God, and He wants them to be found.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
In the previous post in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we saw that at the end of everything God does is the purpose to reveal His glory, to show Himself glorious. And we saw that this means that mankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us.
In this post we hope to see the Bible not as 66 books that happen to be bound by one cover, but as one book. The Bible has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction is the first 11 chapters of Genesis, the body starts at Genesis 12 and goes through to Jude, and the conclusion is Revelation.
Do you read the Bible as a collection of 66 different books that are just collected and bound together? Or do you read the Bible as a single book with a beginning, the main body, and a conclusion?
Now, in a well-written book, the author will begin to reveal major themes in the introduction. One of the keys to the correct interpretation of the Bible is to detect these themes and follow how the author develops them throughout the book. It is silly to try to interpret the Bible without some idea of its emphasis and purpose. This post looks at two fundamental themes that first appear in Genesis 1:28.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The first theme is that God wants to bless His creation. In the context of the blessing, we discover the second theme, dealing with God’s purpose for the blessing which involves man’s responsibility.
The two themes are restated in Genesis 9:1 and further defined in Genesis 12:1-3. Before we go to Genesis 12, here is a summary of what happens in the introduction of the Bible.
This is the backdrop from which God calls Abram to leave his country and declares His covenant with him.
Genesis 12:1-3, which begins the main story of the Bible, outlines the covenant God makes with Abram. And as you might imagine from the introduction, there are two elements to the covenant. There is the blessing element and the responsibility element. Don Richardson, who wrote the book “Eternity in Their Hearts” calls these two elements the top line and bottom line of the covenant. The top line is God’s blessing and the bottom line is Abram’s responsibility.
So God promises to bless Abram by giving him land (v1), making him into a great nation (v2) and a great name (v2). But along with the blessing comes the bottom line, the responsibility. Abram was to be a blessing (v2) and that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (v3). And so the implication is that Abram is blessed in order to be a blessing. That’s the top line and the bottom line of the covenant God made with Abram. You will be blessed but you must be a blessing.
God later confirms His covenant with Abraham and repeats it to his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, giving clarification of its themes. Check out the following passages.
As you read the Bible you will discover the parallel nature of the two themes of blessing and purpose/responsibility. The danger is in failing to keep these two themes in their parallel tension. Our tendency is to see God’s blessings apart from our responsibility and His purpose for the blessing. That failure leads to an egocentric faith with ourselves at the centre of everything.
I want to challenge you to look at the following four stories and think about what God was doing in each instance. We will look more closely at these questions in the next blog post.
Oh sing to the LORD and new song,
sing to the LORD all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
tell of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvellous works among the peoples! (Psalm 96:1-3)
Why did God create the heavens and the earth? Why did God create men and
women? What is the chief aim of God? Not His only passion or motivation,
but His ultimate passion for which all other passions are subordinate. When
every other reason is eliminated but one, what is this one? This one
would be His ultimate design for creation and indeed for every action He takes.
As was pointed out in the introduction, there is a very real tendency to place ourselves (mankind) as the ultimate passion or motivation of God. We tend to think that this Christianity is all about us, as though we are the centre of God’s universe, and that our needs form the basis for His actions. We think that God’s ultimate purpose is to grant us salvation and enjoy us forever. And this perspective leads us to believe that the ultimate objective of missions is man.
As you look at the Scriptures in this blog post, ask yourself these questions: What does the Bible say is the ultimate goal of God? What is the ultimate goal of His activity in the world?
“He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:5-6).
God created the natural world to display His glory: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalms 19:1).
“You are my servant Israel in whom I will be glorified” (Isaiah 49:3); “. . . that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory (Jeremiah 13:11).
“He saved them at the Red Sea for His name’s sake that He might make known His mighty power” (Psalm l06:7-8); “I have raised you up for this very purpose of showing my power in you, so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Romans 9:17).
“I acted in the wilderness for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out (Ezekiel 20:14).
After Israel asked for a king “Fear not . . . For the Lord will not cast away His people for His great name’s sake (l Samuel 12:20-22).
“Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act [in bringing you back from the exile], but for the sake of My holy name…And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name . . . and the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:22-23, 32). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11).
“Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy” (Romans 15:8-9).
“Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:27, 28).
“He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
“God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
“I am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
“Whoever serves [let him serve], as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11).
“Immediately an angel of the Lord smote [Herod] because he did not give glory to God” (Acts 12:23).
“. . . when He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints and to be marvelled at in all who have believed (2 Thessalonians l:9-l0).
“Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given Me, may be with me where I am, to behold My glory, which thou hast given Me in Thy love for Me before the foundation of the world” (John l7:24).
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
From these Scriptures, we can now answer the questions asked at the beginning of this post. Why did God create the heavens and the earth? Why did God create men and women? What is the chief aim of God in everything He does?
The answer is that the ultimate purpose and chief aim in everything God does is for the praise of His glory and His grace. God’s passion for His name and should be our central motivation in everything we do, including missions. God is not receiving the worship that is due His name; therefore, the mission of the Church is to call out worshippers from among the nations. Every church and every follower of Jesus Christ is called to participate in this global activity.
As author Joh Piper puts it in his book Let the Nations Be Glad, “God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshippers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What steps can you take to bring your affections more in line with His? What role could you have in the goal of gathering worshippers from every people, tongue, tribe and nation?
Leave a comment and let us know how you answer these questions.
Do you remember a time when you travelled somewhere to go and visit family or friends?
I remember as a child, we would often go to Hartford in the United States to go and stay with family. It was a bit of a drive, but it was always special especially when we arrived at our family’s home. We were all so excited to see each other and they would often make special arrangements and preparations for us. The rooms where we would sleep would be ready and the fridge would be stocked with delicious food to share with us. When we are expecting company, it is special and there is a lot of effort, time, and love that goes into it.
In John 20:21-22 Jesus said, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
As Jesus speaks to the disciples, He is preparing them to receive the Holy Spirit whom they would receive shortly after on the day of Pentecost.
Before Jesus came to be born of the virgin Mary, God made of all of the necessary preparations beforehand. Everything came to pass just as it was promised.
I briefly shared about travelling to a familiar place but alternatively, when a person is travelling somewhere for the first time it may not be so exciting at first. It may be a new and unfamiliar place, and you may not know anyone. That can be a bit intimidating and maybe even scary.
Are you called to be a missionary? If you have not read this blog series, be sure to check it out.
Not everyone can be a missionary. However, everyone can have a part in the bigger task—by going, sending, supporting, or mobilizing others. Jesus is allowing us to take part in some way.
As we play our part in the process, it’s important to remember that there is a connection between being sent and receiving the Holy Spirit. Wherever God sends us to share the good news of Jesus Christ, He makes preparations for us. He prepares hearts, opportunities, relationships, and even divine appointments. Through prayer, we can make it a priority to seek God and trust that He will prepare the way for us.
When we remember that God makes preparations for us, we are more at peace. When we remember that we have the Holy Spirit, we are more confident. Not because of our abilities, but because of what the Holy Spirit can do through us. Lives can be transformed, people set free, and we can also be renewed and changed. It is a wonderful blessing to experience God and to be able to share that with others.
As some of our missionaries face the reality of travel restrictions, let us continue to pray for them. Jesus has sent them to various places around the world and many of them are still waiting. Let’s pray that God would continue to give them opportunities right where they are and that He would be glorified even through the waiting process.
Where is Jesus sending you? Have you ever been on a missions trip? Please share in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
Have you ever been convinced that you knew something? Have you ever had a discussion about what you thought you knew for sure? Have you ever argued with someone who disagreed with what you thought you knew for sure? Have you ever realized that what you thought you knew for sure, what you had argued for, turned out to be incorrect? Or incomplete?
I’m afraid this of the case for some of us who call ourselves Christian. We think we know what God is up to and believe that we are cooperating with God in His purpose and activities on earth. Everywhere you look in the Bible you see God’s all about blessing us. He loves to bless us and we love to be blessed. So let’s all enjoy the blessings of God.
What we have done is turned the Word of God into something that is all about us. But I don’t think that is true. The Bible is God’s Word and in it He reveals Himself to us and His purposes on the earth. And you know what? It’s not about us. We are in the story but the story is not about us.
We certainly are blessed, but it is not just so that we can be blessed. There is more to it than that.
How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so.
Let’s take a test. If I were to say the first few words of a well-known verse of the Bible, could you complete the verse for me? Here’s the start of the verse…
Be still and…
I expect that as you read these three words, other words came to mind and you easily said, know that I am God. Of course you did because we all know and love that verse. Psalm 46:10 is a favourite verse because it speaks of perhaps the greatest blessing that God has given to those whose sins have been forgiven. To know God is the very best.
There’s just one problem, though. You didn’t complete the verse. Be still and know that I am God is just ⅓ of the verse. So you were not incorrect, just incomplete.
Here’s the whole verse.
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).
The first part of the verse is about us (if we have been born again). But the second part, fully ⅔ of the verse is about God. Without even thinking about it, we made a verse mostly about God into a truncated version that is about us. The blessing of knowing God has global implications, dealing with nations and the earth.
The major focus of North American Christian thought and practice may seem to be, “What can God do for me?” Our lives and our prayers reflect the belief that God’s ultimate priority is to make His disciples more comfortable. Don’t misunderstand me; I believe that God does want to bless us and that God’s desire to bless His people is a major theme of the Bible. But if we focus on the theme of blessing alone, we distort the truth and lose the context in which God’s blessings are given.
Over the course of eight more blog posts, I hope to create an awareness of one of the most ignored themes of the Bible - God’s global purpose: His desire and activity of redeeming mankind, the nations, to Himself. It involves the active pursuit of worshippers from all the peoples of the earth that will give Him the glory that is due His name. God’s blessings and His global purpose are beautifully woven together in the Bible. My belief is that in order to correctly interpret and apply Scripture, it is necessary to understand the connection of these two themes. To ignore either one leads to misinterpretation and faulty application. Ultimately, lives will be misdirected.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the truth of His Word as you read and think on the next eight posts on this topic of God’s heart for the nations and that you will respond to His guidance in applying His truth.
Take a few moments to think of two or three people you know who might want to go through this series of posts. Share this with them. Maybe you would go through this together, as a group. If you do, please let us know.
And don’t forget to share this on your favourite social media channels as well. Let’s get the word out and then do the work of missions until there is no place left where Jesus is not known (Romans 15:23).
Waiting in our “daily”
Today we are going to be talking about waiting. We will look at some examples of things we wait for, some reasons why God allows us to wait at times, and a story in the Bible that demonstrates the most important message about waiting.
The average person on a daily basis spends approximately 2-3 hrs of waiting in a day. Now this is very approximate because our daily routines are all very different. But, we all do spend time everyday waiting for something.
Some examples of things we wait for everyday are:
-waiting for our food to cook or warm up
-waiting for our coffee to brew
-waiting for our phones and computers to load
-waiting for someone to get back to us
Now with most of these things we typically wait for on a daily basis, they end up turning out ok. We finally get to eat that delicious meal, the coffee finally brews, our computers load, etc.
The truth is that even in these moments of waiting in our daily lives, most of us don't like to wait because it can generally make us feel frustrated, confused, impatient, and unsure.
But what do we do with those feelings?
This is a very important question we need to ask ourselves especially during times of waiting on the Lord.
Purpose in Waiting
Have you ever waited on God for something? Maybe right now you are in a season of waiting.
Be encouraged today because God does often allow us to wait on Him because there is purpose in the waiting.
Let's look at 4 reasons today why God allows us to wait at times:
1- Waiting allows for God's perfect timing and will to be done.
2 Peter 3:8
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
God is not limited by our time and schedules. He has all of the resources for every possible thing and we need to trust in His perfect timing in our lives.
Abraham in the Bible was waiting for a son. God had made a promise to him (Genesis 15:5) and he had to wait. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Isaac was the promise child that Abraham had to wait for. This was God’s perfect timing and will that was brought forth, as promised.
2- Waiting builds patience in our lives.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
We've heard the saying, if we ask God for patience, He will allow us to be in situations that give us the opportunity to be patient. Waiting is one of those things that definitely allows us to build our patience.
3- Waiting transforms our character.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
While waiting is often out of our control, we can choose to have a positive outlook and attitude in seasons of waiting. This process is important because it reveals what's inside of our hearts. It's certainly not easy to wait, but it can truly be transforming for us if we allow it to.
4- Waiting brings us closer to God and allows us to fully depend on Him.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine."
When we are waiting on God for something, sometimes His answer is:
And sometimes its:
I have something better in mind for you. Just wait a little bit longer.
What are you waiting on God for today?
I want to encourage you today that God's got your back, He's got this. He's going to work it out. Not only that, but He's going to do beyond what you can imagine. That’s His Word.
We need to wait well. We need to worship while we wait. We need to remain thankful while we wait. We need to remain faithful in prayer while we wait. These are very important and key.
The Father is Waiting
We've been looking at different examples of waiting and why God sometimes allows us to wait in situations. There is a well-known story in the Bible that demonstrates the most important message about waiting: The Prodigal Son
Most of us know that story well and what a wonderful demonstration of the compassion and love a father has for his son.
This story is an amazing demonstration of God's love for us and as much as we are all waiting for something, in the middle of it all, God our Father is waiting for us. He is waiting to hear from us, for us to spend time with Him. For us to share His love with others.
The Father is waiting today...
The Father’s will is that none would perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). People out there need to hear about Jesus and He can use simple people like you and me, if we are willing and obedient.
Would you partner with us in prayer for those who have yet to hear about Jesus?
The mission of advancing the gospel is the great work of the church, and prayer is the fuel that powers it.
Would you pray for our missionaries as they wait on the Lord to return to their fields?
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”
God bless you as you wait patiently on the Lord.
At One Mission Society we are excited when a congregation take steps to become more intentional about their involvement in cross-cultural missions work because we see this kind of world evangelization as the key to meeting the requirement Jesus gave in Matthew 24:14; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” This is how we complete the Great Commission, preaching the gospel of the kingdom to all nations. And we know that nations does not refer to political entities like Canada or Cameroon or Croatia or Colombia. It means ethno-linguistic people groups like the Ansari in India, the Arain in Pakistan, the Uygher in China and the Fulani of Nigeria.
So we encourage congregations to develop a strategy to become more intentional about resourcing the cross-cultural work with funds and with people.
The strategy serves as the roadmap to get from where they are presently to that place of greater intentionality and impact.
However, in order for a map to be of any kind of a useful tool for charting a course, there are two critical pieces of knowledge that we must possess. The first is the knowledge of where we wish to go, that destination to which we wish to go. That’s usually quite obvious if we have taken the time to think it through. The second piece of knowledge that we must possess is perhaps less obvious and less simple to attain; where we are presently. Think about it. You cannot plot a course from point A to point B unless you can find both point A and point B on the map. And it’s been our experience that point A is the more difficult point to get correct.
Perhaps you have had this experience. You are playing a round of golf and as occasionally happens, you hit your driver off the tee and lose sight of the ball. You have an idea of the general area where it landed. And so you strike out to where you think your ball should be. You look and look, gradually moving further and further away from the spot you thought it should be in ever widening circles until you find the ball much closer to the tee than you thought it went. You were sure it went 230 yards, but it actually only went 185.
I think it is a universal principle that we estimate our progress to be further than it actually is, we estimate our drives to be longer than they are and we estimate our value to be greater than it really is. So how can we be more accurate in determining what our Point A actually is?
What follows are 19 questions to help us determine where Point A really is. These questions are designed for Pastors and church leaders, but any church member can find the questions helpful. So give them a go.
So how did you do? We would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below. And, if you feel it is appropriate, please share this blog post with your pastor and church leaders. We really do want to see congregations become more intentional about their role in world evangelization.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
Are you perfectly content where you are right now? Or are you the individual that is unsure about what they should do with their life? No matter which one you are, or if you are a mixture of both….You should consider being a missionary.
It may not be the path you thought you would take, and honestly, it’s not what a lot of people see themselves doing.
You probably have a set picture in your mind of what you want your life to look like. Maybe getting married, kids on the way, the white picket fence, and a puppy running around? Or maybe there is another picture in place, either way, the truth is… being a missionary is more than just giving your life to God in order to see Him do amazing things. It’s a decision that every Christian should at least consider.
God’s Heart Lies Amongst the Ruins
Have you ever prayed this prayer: “God, break my heart for what breaks yours”?
Well, let me tell you something, God’s heart breaks for those who are lost and hurting. His heart hurts for the ones that don’t know Him, and have no one to tell them the glorious truth.
Jesus once said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40) The “least of these” are those who are alone; the ones that no one wants to be around. The ones that are still out there waiting for you to come and be their friend.
Have you ever heard that song, “Do Something” by Matthew West? (I really encourage you to listen to it.) The song starts off with the things that are wrong with this world; it talks about the hurt, the pain, the disgusting attributes that give you a sick feeling in your stomach. Then a question is asked, probably one that we have all asked at one point in our lives: “God why don’t You do something?” The response? “I did… I created YOU.”
There is a lot of hurt in this world, and we can’t go on believing that someone else will fix it, especially when God created you to be able to do amazing things. Being a missionary allows you to serve God while serving others. It’s an act of laying down our lives so that the Lord can work in us and through us.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. — John 15:13
Your Calling Awaits
According to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), if you are a follower of Christ, you are called to go.
How would life look if all Christians went like God commands us to? How amazing would it be to have Christians step out in faith and say, “God, I’m going to go unless You stop me”? So many people claim that God couldn’t want them to go because He blessed them right where they are, but that’s not always the case.
Loren Cunningham once said, “You’re either a missionary or a mission field.”
Although it seems like such a simple statement, there is so much weight in it. If you are a Christian, you’re called to being a missionary. If you are not, then you are the mission field that the missionaries should be pursuing.
There’s Still a Need For More Missionaries
Consider this assessment from the Traveling Team.
“If everyone is obeying God’s “calling” to be a missionary wherever they are then God is calling 99.9995% of people to work among the 44.3% of the world population that already has the gospel, and calling virtually no one (.0005%) to relocate among the other 55.7% of the world population that are not Christian. You have a better chance of being in a plane crash than being one of the few missionaries to the unreached out of the total 2 billion Christians in the world.
In light of God’s word, this seems unfathomable and it appears to be almost complete disobedience on the part of the Church worldwide to go make disciples of all the nations. Financially we are hoarding 99.99% of our income to ourselves and what little is given is mostly directed toward reached people groups.
The current status quo is to do virtually nothing to reach the UPG’s of the world. The percentages of man-power and money focused on UPG’s are almost undetectable they are so small. The amount of resources that fall off the Christian table for unreached peoples is more comparable (I Googled it…) with the number of skin cells you lose over a month’s time: something hardly worth calling a sacrifice of the body.”
God isn’t simply calling those who are on the field, now, but countless others that allow other things to get in the way of this call. Maybe it’s their job, or their family, or making money. There are so many people who allow the short time on earth to consume their eternity. Being a missionary is all about humbling yourself before God, offering Him your all, and surrendering your life to Him.
Yes, it is a large sacrifice. Of course, it’s hard to do; but, think of all the things that God did for you. He made you. Loved you. Held you when you rejected Him. Died for you. Cared about you. God changed your life, isn’t the least you could do is allow Him to work through you to do that for others?
“Any church not involved in the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.” — Oswald J. Smith
It’s NOT About You
This life isn’t about you; you are simply the one who is living it.
Max Lucado says it best when He says, “God does not exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of Him. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.”
So many people seem to believe that this life is a possession that belongs to them, but that’s not the truth. Your life belongs to God. He has a set path for you to follow, but a multitude of things have gotten in the way of this idea.
Your life is not your own. It’s an instrument that God blessed you with.
“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” — C.T. Studd
Every aspect of your life points back to God—or at least it should. We live in a world that is doing a better job of loving people than the church is, and it’s up to you to change that. The best way to do that? Keep in mind that your life is not your own and be willing to give your life to the God who changes lives and people.
I challenge you to consider being a missionary. It’s not all about what you end up doing as a missionary, or even how many people you reach, but it’s about Him and your obedience to Him.
We are Christians, called to be God’s instruments, but it seems like a lot of us like to march to the beat of our own drums. The moment you gave your life to God, you gave Him rule over every aspect of you. Don’t think about what you could lose by being a missionary, think of everything you can gain for the kingdom. Isn’t that worth it?
You might be wondering about the title of this blog, so I would like to start by defining the two key words: maniac and missionary.
A maniac can be defined as: a person exhibiting extreme symptoms of wild behavior, especially when violent and dangerous.
A missionary can be defined as: a person who crosses cultures to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
A person who is a maniac is very different from a person who is a missionary and today we are going to look at a story in the Bible that talks about a man who had this very experience of going from a maniac to a missionary.
Jesus had come to the other side of the sea, to the country of Gadarenes and immediately after He got off the boat a man with an unclean spirit was there to meet Him (Mark 5:1-2). This man could not be controlled by anyone. He was bound with shackles and chains, and he was constantly crying out and cutting himself with stones (Mark 5:4-5). He was being tormented by demons, who even themselves acknowledged Jesus as the Son of the Most High God (Mark 5:7).
What is interesting with this particular interaction of Jesus with someone who was demon possessed, was that Jesus actually had an extended conversation with the leader of the band of demons (Legion). Usually, Jesus would immediately cast out demons but we see some conversation here as they all beg Jesus to send them into the pigs (Mark 5:12).
Jesus goes on to give permission for the demons to enter into the pigs and they run violently down the steep place into the sea, and they drowned (Mark 5:13).
The man was now free, he was no longer bound, he was clothed, and in his right mind. After an encounter with Jesus, He went from being a maniac to a missionary (Mark 5:15).
Jesus instructed the man to go home and tell others the great things that the Lord had done for him (Mark 5:19) and as he began to proclaim all that Jesus had done, the people marveled at what they heard (Mark 5:20).
Let`s be encouraged by this story. God can take the worst situation and turn it into something that is so beautiful and meaningful. We can sometimes make excuses about why we don`t think God can use us for His purposes. Having this mentality can actually prevent us from becoming all that God has created us to be. It`s not about our qualifications or even our strengths. It`s about God working in and through us to accomplish His plans. He is God and only He can transform a person`s life radically.
As Christians, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ is something we are all called to do (Matthew 28:18-20). Are you called to be a missionary? You can read this previous blog series to help answer that question in your own life.
We also have some other great blogs to help you learn more about missions: Accessible Missions Education, Not Just an Ordinary Trip, Four Myths about Missions Strategy, and Missions Vision Near and Far.
God is passionate about missions and He has a heart for missions. Jesus Himself came to teach us one of the most important things: to spread the gospel. And we are all called to do that.
While you may not be able to go on a missions trip for one reason or another, there are other ways that you and I can help support missions. One very important way is to be praying for our missionaries. They need our constant prayer. Here is a guide to help you with some specific prayer points.
Have you been on a missions trip? Please share your experience with us below. We would love to hear all about it.
Have you ever been asked to do something you felt you were not qualified or equipped to do?
I’m sure we have all felt like that at one point in life, so today we are going to talk about living our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s start by looking at God’s Word and see what the Bible says.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
In this passage, Jesus is promising the disciples that the Holy Spirit will come. Jesus was also preparing His disciples for when He would no longer be with them physically. The Holy Spirit would come to teach and remind them about Jesus and everything He had taught them.
This is a very important and significant promise for us today as well because we need to constantly be reminded about all that Jesus said.
So what about living through the power of the Holy Spirit? What does that mean exactly?
We must first realize that we cannot do anything through our own power or strength. We need to live our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Our might and our power gets weak and tired, so as children of God we need to remember that we cannot do it on our own strength. When we choose to be obedient to God’s Word, we start to see a wonderful move of God happening.
Let’s look at 3 things that happen when we choose to be obedient and live our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit:
1. The Holy Spirit helps us Pray
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
Many times we don’t know what to pray for or how to pray. Thank God for His Holy Spirit, who helps us pray. This is such an encouragement to know that no matter how we may feel at times, we always have the Holy Spirit to help us.
2. The Holy Spirit comforts us
“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)
God comforts us through His Holy Spirit. We all go through different challenges and seasons in our lives and we need to be comforted. We can always be assured that God will never leave or forsake us, and that He will give us great comfort. Let us be encouraged by this today and let us also encourage someone else.
3. The Holy Spirit leads us to a life of righteousness
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
The Holy Spirit sanctifies and enables us to bear good fruit. It’s a constant battle between our flesh and the Spirit, but as we surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow sanctification to occur, we begin to start bearing good fruit and our desires change, which then changes our behaviors and actions.
Connection to Missions
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
It’s not by our own might or power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need power from God especially when we are reaching out to others. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray for others, reminds us of God’s Word which is truth, and enables us to be patient with others, and to love, forgive, and be kind to them. These things are sometimes not easy to do with some people, but we need to remember that it’s not by our own doing and in our own strength; it’s through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Let’s be encouraged to live our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. At OMS Canada, we have wonderful missionaries who have been obedient and committed to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. They need our constant prayers, encouragement, and support. Please click here to learn more about them and how you can offer your support.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
A seminary professor says that when he teaches on the Great Commission, he often begins by asking the students what is Jesus’ primary emphasis in the Great Commission. Typically, most students reply that evangelism is the main focus. Then he asks them to read the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20, after which he asks his question a second time. The students quickly see that although the Great Commission includes a call to evangelism, it doesn’t actually contain the word evangelism. What the students come to understand through more careful study of the Great Commission is that Jesus’ main focus is on making disciples.
So, while making disciples certainly does include evangelism, it is by no means limited to evangelism. The sort of disciple-making to which Jesus commissions the church involves much more, including baptism and teaching. Simply put, if we have only evangelized a people or a nation or a congregation, we have not been obedient to the fullness of the Great Commission.
In addition to evangelism, Jesus provided us with specific instructions that we are to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and that we are to teach people to obey everything that He commanded us.
Plus, if we have only evangelized, baptized and received a person into church membership, then we have not been obedient to the fullness of the Great Commission. Both baptizing and teaching are the ministry of the local church around the world, and this is why the local church sends people out to make disciples. As missionaries, preachers and teachers we go to all nations to plant, equip and disciple the church of Jesus Christ. We are called not simply to evangelize and move on, which it seems that many Canadian evangelical churches consider the extent of their Great Commission responsibility. We are called to stay on course and to do the hard work of teaching Jesus’ disciples to obey all that He commanded, including the command to go and make disciples of all nations.
The Great Commission is a call for the church to be the church and to do the work of the church by making disciples of all nations. And we must remember that Jesus never called it the Great Commission. It is indeed a great commission, but it is a beautifully ordinary commission that we have the great privilege of fulfilling in part as we gather together with every people, tongue, tribe and nation to worship with our families every Lord’s Day. Then we partake of and bear witness to the ordinary means of grace in the building up of the church in the preaching of the Word, growing as disciples and learning from the Scriptures to obey every command given by Jesus. Then we enjoy the communion of the saints in communion with God in prayer, observe baptism in the name of the triune God, and partake regularly of the Supper that our Lord provides at His table. This is the extraordinarily great and greatly ordinary work of the church being faithful to the faithfulness of the Great Commission.
So don’t think that the Commission is so great that it is beyond you. If you are a part of the church, then it is for you. Discipleship is the engine that drives the purposes of God on the earth, whether you are in Edmonton or Edirne, Hanoi or Hamilton, Montreal or Malang.
So, please tell us; what is your experience with the Commission of Jesus? Were you discipled? Are you making disciples? Does that discipleship include the element of obedience to everything Jesus commanded?
Leave a comment and let us know.
The word spread can be defined as: the development or growth of something so that it covers a larger area or affects a large number of people.
As we live in this time of pandemic with the coronavirus, we know that it has spread globally. It is something that has changed all of our lives and something we will never forget. We are being advised to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons, we are not able to gather at church, and the list goes on.
Although this pandemic has caused so much impact in everyone’s lives in a drastic way, let’s be reminded that it will also eventually come to an end. I am not saying that in an ignorant way of those who have lost their lives or jobs or those who are infected. There have been other pandemics and they have ended so this one will also come to an end. Different pandemic but same miracle-working God.
As children of God let’s be reminded of things that are even more powerful and are of eternal value. These have miraculous power and do not come to an end. Let’s talk about these today.
As we reflect on the life of Jesus, let's be reminded and encouraged of what Jesus was constantly spreading when He was here on Earth.
Let's look at 3 things today:
1 Corinthians 13:13
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Everything that Jesus did, was always done out of love. It didn't matter who He encountered, He always displayed Love.
He was always spreading Love. This Love still has power today and will always have power.
Are we expressing our love to God and others?
Even with the social distancing requirements, we can still spread love to others. We can call someone or message them to encourage them or even make them laugh. We can pray with other believers which I am so thankful we have been able to do through technology. It is truly a blessing and an encouragement.
2- The Gospel
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
This is a wonderful verse that demonstrates the importance of spreading the gospel- not only to certain people- to all creation.
Wherever Jesus went, He shared the gospel. Not only did He share it but He shared it with authority, power, and love.
The Gospel brings salvation, truth, and it never fails. God's Word is always accurate and without fault and it will always be.
If you’ve heard the news lately, sometimes there are reports that are slightly inaccurate, etc. This is understandable and obvious as people make mistakes. Thank God the Gospel is always accurate and we can fully trust everything that God has said to us.
1 Corinthians 15:57
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Jesus constantly displayed victory over and over again. People were miraculously healed and transformed. People were set free from sin and helplessness and so much more.
Today, we still have these same victories through Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let's ask ourselves today what we are spreading....
Maybe we are watching the news too much and therefore spreading what is being reported. I'm not saying to be ignorant and not watch the news. Let's be wise and informed but let's not let the news dominate our tvs and households.
More than ever, the world needs us to be strong, but not in our own strength. Victory brings us hope. Let’s not forget how far God has brought us and the past victories we have experienced. The victories will continue to spread and God will get all of the glory.
Let's be an encouraging voice that prays, hopes, believes, and keeps moving forward because God is with us and God is for us.
Let's spread the love of Jesus.
Let's spread the gospel which is the truth.
Let's spread this victory which we firmly have in Jesus.
Let’s spread what Jesus spread.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
Connection to Missions
By God's grace, One Mission Society unites, inspires, and equips Christians to make disciples of Jesus Christ, multiplying dynamic communities of believers around the world. Our desire is to declare God’s glory among the nations.
This is what we are spreading and our prayer is that God would continue to be pleased as He uses this ministry for His glory. Click here for some FAQ where you can learn more about us.
What have you been spreading?
How have you remained encouraged during these times?
We would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below.
In this week’s blog post, we are considering the habit or discipline of evangelism. In past posts, we have considered Bible intake, prayer and worship.
If you have not seen these posts yet, go ahead and click on the following links to catch up:
And remember that the primary motivation for these spiritual habits or disciplines is taken from Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7, where he says, exercise or discipline yourself toward godliness. This applies to us just the same today and makes it clear that, if we wish to be godly, it will take work, discipline, and exercise. Just as an athlete, musician, or artist must exercise disciplined practice to become more proficient at their chosen field, so a disciple must exercise disciplined practice in these activities as means’ of grace to become more proficient at being godly. That is to say that, as we become more disciplined in the practice of these habits, more of God’s grace is available to us which will change us.
Only the joy of being lost in the worship of God is as exhilarating and intoxicating as telling someone about Jesus Christ. And those who do embrace this habit or discipline report that some of the most rewarding times have been during missions trips when they have done nothing but talk about Jesus, on the streets and in homes, with one individual or group after another, all day long. I can put you in touch with several MFM team members who will tell you that this is true.
Yet, nothing causes more foot-shuffling eye-shifting anxiety among disciples like talking about our responsibility to evangelize. I know many believers who are confident that they are obedient in the area of Bible intake, giving, or serving, but I don’t think I know of a single person who would say, “I am as evangelistic as I should be.”
What I want us to see is that godliness requires that we discipline ourselves in the habit of evangelism. I’m convinced that the main reason that most of us do not witness for Jesus in ways that would be effective and relatively fear-free is simply that we do not discipline ourselves to do it.
Evangelism is expected
Most of us reading this post will not need convincing that Jesus expects each of us to be involved in sharing the gospel with those around us. Because there are many methods of evangelism, it is not expected that believers would all do it the same, but He does expect all disciples to be fishers of men.
What do I mean by evangelism? It is always good to make sure that we are all on the same page in terms of what we are talking about and having a common understanding of the terms will help us understand what is being said.
Evangelism is presenting Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to unbelievers so that they might come to put their trust in God through Him, to receive Him as their Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.
More concisely, we could say that all New Testament evangelism is communicating the gospel. Anyone faithfully relating the essential elements of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is evangelizing. Evangelism occurs whether the words of the gospel are spoken, written, sung, or recorded.
Jesus has commanded us to witness. Consider these five references:
And consider this final exhortation from Peter. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) I think that we usually view this reference in terms of establishing the priesthood of all believers. But we may also identify it as one that challenges each of us to a kind of prophet-hood of all believers. God expects each of us to “proclaim the excellencies” of Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is empowered
So, if it is so obvious that we are to evangelize, why do almost all western Christians seem to be disobedient?
Some may think they need a lot of specialized training to witness effectively. They might be afraid to speak about Jesus until they are confident in their knowledge of the Bible and/or their ability to deal with every potential question or objection.
Think about the blind man that Jesus healed in John 9. What if he had felt this way? Would he ever have felt ready to witness to the hoity-toity Pharisees? No way! And yet, within hours or minutes of receiving his sight he gave a compelling witness to his new reality; “He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and I see.” “Once I was blind, but now I can see!”
Sometimes we may be afraid that if we speak about Jesus that people will think we are strange and reject us. And for many, this will probably be true. Jesus told us that this would be the case in at least some of our interactions with unbelievers. But it is not a good reason to do nothing.
Another reason for inaction might be the fear of not being successful in witnessing. So, what exactly does it mean to be successful at witnessing? When the person you are witnessing to comes to Christ? I mean that’s what we want to see, isn’t it? But if we measure evangelistic success only in terms of conversions, does this make Jesus or Paul or the other apostles unsuccessful when many people rejected what they preached? Obviously not. So we also are not failures. We will not be held to a higher standard.
We need to learn that sharing the gospel is successful evangelism. Certainly, we should also be passionate for souls, and plead with God to see more people saved, but ultimately only God can produce the fruit of evangelism called conversion. We are like the postal service. They measure success by the careful and accurate delivery of the message, not by the response of the recipient. Whenever we share the gospel accurately and clearly, we have succeeded. In the truest sense, all biblical evangelism is successful evangelism, regardless of the results.
Remember this; the power of evangelism is the Holy Spirit. From the instant that He indwells you, He gives you the power to witness. Jesus made this very clear in Acts 1:8 when He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jesus expects evangelism from every Christian because the Holy Spirit has been given to empower every Christian to evangelize. All believers have been given the power to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Not only is the witness empowered by the Holy Spirit, but the very gospel we share is also embedded with the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul said in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” This is why people can be converted whether they hear a teenage teacher at VBS share the gospel, or a seminary trained PhD; whether they read it in a book by a scholar like CS Lewis or a simple gospel tract. The gospel is empowered by God. Therefore your evangelism is empowered.
We can be confident that some will believe if we will faithfully and diligently share the gospel. Abundant gospel sowing is our responsibility. And the seed we sow, the gospel, is empowered by God Himself.
Evangelism is a habit or a discipline
While evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life and every Christian needs to be able to talk about what God has done for him or her and what He means to him or her, it is also a discipline in that we must discipline ourselves to get into situations where evangelism can occur. We must not just wait for witnessing opportunities to happen.
Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The implication is that you will be in a place where this light can be seen.
Again, I think the main reason we don’t witness is that we simply do not discipline ourselves to do it. Yes, there may be those unplanned or unexpected opportunities that God brings our way to give a reason for the hope we possess (1 Peter 3:15). But I still believe and contend that unless we make evangelism a discipline or a habit, most Christians will seldom share the gospel.
So let’s make evangelism a discipline and a habit. Let’s all become recipients of the soul-winners crown.
Since evangelism is expected, will you obey the Lord and be a witness?
Since evangelism is empowered, will you believe that God can use your words in the salvation of others?
Since evangelism is a discipline, will you plan for it?
Without discipline, our best evangelistic intentions often go unspoken. May we discipline ourselves to live so that we can say with the apostle Paul, “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:23 ESV)
As evangelicals, we all understand that the lost need to be saved.
Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. And, as the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends us.
This process is built on the understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and it is at the heart of what the church is to be doing both at home and cross-culturally.
But have you ever thought about what sin is, really? I mean, we talk about it pretty easily, but, really, what is sin? How would you define sin to someone who has neither the religious language nor background?
The most extensive treatment of sin in the Bible is found in Romans 1–3. And even when the word isn’t used, we know that is what Paul is dealing with because when he comes to summarize it he says, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin” (Romans 3:9). And he leaves no doubt about his conclusion in the next verse: “None is righteous, no, not one” (verse 10) and in verse 12, “No one does good, not even one.”
So we back up then to Romans 1 in search of the essence of sin. By essence I mean: What’s at the bottom of it? What makes all sinful actions sinful? What is wrong with us at our core that gives rise to so many different kinds of evil?
This question is making an assumption that sin is more than simply what we do. It is an attempt to go beneath our doing to a root or a condition.
The reason for going beneath our doings to a root of sin is because Paul does. And he does so not incidentally but vigorously and forcefully. Paul sees that the essence or the root all sinning is a presence, a force, in us, part of who we are, called sin. For example, in Roman 7:8 he says, “Sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.”
Now everyone agrees that covetousness is a sin. “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17). It’s a sin in the heart. A heart-sin that might produce outward sinning like stealing. But notice, Paul says, “Sin produced covetousness.” Well, covetousness is sin. Right. And so there is a sin beneath sin that produces sin. That’s what I want to see. I want to know at the root what is wrong with me.
What is at the bottom of all my evils? And all the evils in the world?
Let’s go to Romans 1 and start with verse 18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Here humanity in general is described as “ungodly and unrighteous.” John says in 1 John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.” Therefore, we are talking about sin here. In addition, Paul chooses to talk about it first in terms of ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Now, the first thing he says about it is that is that it causes people to suppress the truth. Sin repels the light of truth and runs to the darkness of falsehood. Jesus said that we are guilty sinners not because we are victims of the darkness but because we are lovers of the darkness. John 3:19, “Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light.” Sin by nature inclines and empowers us to suppress the truth.
What truth particularly does sin hate? The next verse tells us (Romans 1:19). The reason we know that men suppress the truth is “Because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” Knowledge of God is repulsive to sin. So, Paul says, when this knowledge is suppressed, we have no excuse. Why? Verses 20–21: “So they are without excuse. For [because] although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks to Him.”
So the root of suppressing the knowledge of God is the desire to avoid glorifying and thanking God. Sin does not love to glorify God. Sin does not love to thank God. Sin hates glorifying God and thanking God. That’s what “ungodly” meant in verse 18. In “ungodliness and unrighteousness,” he said, we suppress the truth — namely, the truth that God is infinitely worthy of glory and thanks from our hearts. Sin hates that and therefore suppresses that truth.
But sin is not just a hater. Sin is a lover. When the hated truth is suppressed, the loved lie is embraced. This is described over and over in the rest of chapter 1. Look at verse 22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they (that is, those who suppress the truth and have darkened hearts) have became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They don’t just bury truth; they embrace alternative lovers. There’s no vacuum. When the real God is rejected, images are embraced. They “exchanged the glory of God for images.” Sin hates the real God and loves his God-substituting images.
Is this the root of sinning? Now, if there ever was an age devoted to images, it is our age. We spend most of our leisure time looking at images. Watch how Paul describes now the relationship between this exchange, this suppressing of true God and this embracing of replacement gods—the relationship between that, and the outpouring of sinning in the world.
Verse 24: “Therefore [because of this exchange in verse 23] God gave them up in the lusts [desires] of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.” Because of the exchange of verse 23, God goes hands off and godlessness and unrighteousness of the human heart goes unrestrained into sinning.
So here is a working definition of sinning: Sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not hallow or treasure God above everything else. The bottom of sin, the root of all sinning, is this kind of heart — a heart that prefers anything above God, a heart that does not hallow or treasure God over all other persons and all other things.
This would be a more descriptive way to quantify what sin really is:
The glory of God not honoured.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savoured.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The promises of God not believed.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.
This is the essence of what it means to hallow the name of God. When you pray the Lord’s Prayer and you make the request that God cause His name to be hallowed, you are praying that, all over the world, and in every tongue, tribe, people and nation, there would be people who hallow and treasure God above all things and find their eternal joy in the Him alone.
And this really is the task of missions, to make disciples of all nations who hallow and treasure God above all things and find their eternal joy in Him alone.
How do you treasure God above all things? Feel free to comment below. We would love to hear about your experiences.
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution
to world evangelization in history.”
The mission of advancing the gospel is the great work of the church, and prayer is the fuel that powers it.
One of the greatest resources the church has for advancing the gospel is the ability to come before God in prayer and plead for what is already on His heart—the growth of His kingdom in the world.
James Fraser (1886–1938), missionary to the Lisu people of China, once said, “I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first, second, and third places, and teaching the fourth.”
Fraser dedicated his life to the teaching and translating of the Scriptures until he died of cerebral malaria at the age of fifty-two in Baoshan, Yunnan, China. His dedication to the Scripture was never doubted. And he recognized the absolute necessity of prayer in the missions endeavour.
With that in view, here are four reasons why churches must pray for missions:
1. Jesus taught His disciples to how to pray for missions and modelled it as He trained them.
Early in His training of the disciples, Jesus taught them how to pray (Matt. 6:9–13). Then later, after facing the challenges of ministry, they came back to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray. He brought them back to the same prayer in which the petitioner first cries out, “Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2 ESV).
Later, Jesus would model how spiritual battles to accomplish the mission would only be won by faith through prayer as He cried out “not my will, but Yours, be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42 ESV).
Before Jesus sent out the twelve or the seventy-two, He pointed their faces toward heaven in prayer and turned disciples’ hearts into labourers. Therefore, when we start churches and before community engagement occurs, we must bathe the community in prayer. The church must never lose sight that to train disciples to pray is the first step in bringing the gospel to the mission field.
2. Prayer moves the heart of the church toward the heart of God for His mission.
When Jesus sent out the disciples in Luke 10 to all the places He planned to visit, He told them to pray that God would send workers into the harvest field. Then He said, “Go! I am sending you” (Luke 10:3, NIV) as the answer to their prayer. It is important that, when we pray to the Lord of the harvest, we be willing to be the answer to that prayer.
Frank and his wife were part of a church plant in which prayer was an intentional part of the foundation. A church where men gathered weekly for early morning prayer and all-night prayer gatherings were not uncommon. In these times, God did something extraordinary, more powerful than any small group meeting or corporate worship experience. It was then that God shaped their hearts for the world. Out of that group, missionaries were sent, church planters birthed, and a church’s heart was shaped for the kingdom.
Years later, when they started a church in a different neighborhood, they sent the plant team out to pray. It was called “groundwork.” It started with prayer walking for a few months, then they went door to door praying with people for the needs of the neighbourhood and their families. It was a beautiful way for a church to bless a community. They were able to demonstrate the heart of God to people by praying for their concerns. Very few people would close a door to prayer.
3. Prayer opens the doors in the world for the gospel to advance.
In Colossians 4:3–4, Paul tells the church, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (ESV). Prayer opens doors of opportunity for the gospel to be shared that previously seemed closed.
In prayer, the impossible becomes practical. Like when Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12, the church was praying and God released Peter, opening the iron gate leading into the city (Acts 12:10 ESV). In that experience, Peter realized that nothing would hold back the kingdom of God from advancing as the church prayed.
It is prayer that helps us connect with people who are open to the gospel. It is prayer that leads us to the right place at the right time to take the steps that only God could orchestrate. Prayer connects the church to the activity of God who is empowering His people to advance the message of His kingdom.
4. Prayer empowers those going to share the gospel clearly and without fear.
Without prayer, fear will rule the hearts of those sharing the gospel. Paul knew his own need for courage to proclaim the gospel. In Ephesians 6:19–20, Paul asked the church, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel...Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (NIV).
Paul faced his own timidity and overcame his fears through the prayers of the church. Through corporate prayer we realize no one is alone, and we strive together through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the church prays, the Holy Spirit increases the spiritual fervour of the body that affects all its parts.
It is imperative that a church prays and engages in the spiritual work of kingdom advancement. When the church prays, Christians begin to get a clearer picture of missions. It is through prayer that God’s people move closer toward the heart of God for the world. It is through prayer that fears about sharing the gospel are defeated.
Missions moves in the wake of prayer. May we be a church that rises by falling to our knees in order to advance God’s kingdom to all nations.
We can reach our world, if we will.
The greatest lack today is not people or funds.
The greatest need is prayer.
-Wesley Duewel, Touch the World Through Prayer
Is prayer a priority in your life? Can you share of a time when God answered your prayers?
Feel free to share a comment below. We would love to hear from you.
At OMS we believe Prayer is the battlefield for fruitfulness and we depend on it for a successful ministry. Click here to learn more about how you can partner with us in prayer.