Category Archives: missions

Mark 7:24-30

Title: The Gospel to the Gentiles: Part 1

Text: Mark 7.24-30

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series on Mark: Jesus, the Bread of Life. This section is in Mark 6.30-8.21; it is the extended ministry of Jesus, beyond the Sea of Galilee. Here in chapter 7, Jesus has rebuked the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their clinging to the traditions of men, above even the Word of God. In that passage, Jesus declared all food clean. And then, he does something amazing: he gets up from there and enters into Gentile territory. Now, the Jews wouldn’t eat or fellowship with Gentiles. If someone went into the home of a Gentile, that person would become unclean. Now, that is nowhere in the Law of God, but it had simply become one of their own traditions or standards.

Listen, setting standards can be a good thing. I think you should set standards for yourself. In order to help you live a holy and godly life, set some standards. But, don’t make those the requirements for getting into heaven! That standard has already been set!

  • Let’s say you decide you’re never going to go out on Saturday nights, but instead, you’ll be home by a certain time and get ready for Sunday. There is nothing wrong with that. However, when you begin to judge others who don’t live the same way – then, you’re wrong.
  • Let’s say you decide you’re always going to look your best on Sunday mornings. You want to present your very best to God. Great. Iron you clothes, polish your shoes, Get your hair cut or done on Saturday. Whatever it takes. But here is where you might mess up: when you judge the brother or sister who isn’t in their suit and tie, or in their nicest dress.

Yes, set standards to help yourself – just don’t make them the requirement for salvation!

Jesus is going to step outside the standards set by the traditions of the elders…again. He just did it in 7.1-23. He’s going to do it again by going into Gentile territory.

And here is where we pick up the storyline in v 24 – I’ve divided this passage into three main parts:

  1. Jesus withdraws from that region into the land of the Gentiles.
  2. A desperate mother discovers his whereabouts and petitions him to save her daughter.
  3. Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st point…

I.      Jesus withdraws from that region (24)

exp.: rd v 24; the fact that he didn’t want anyone to know where he was demonstrates for me his desire to be hidden – to get away from people.

Ill.: I’m sure you remember Southwest Airlines commercials from a few years back – back before there was DVR? You want to get away? I love the one where the delivery man is headed back to his truck after dropping something off at this house. The couple who lives there is working in their garden by the driveway. He sees a basketball and decides to be cool and take a shot. The couple watches as he picks up the ball and ‘air balls it’, missing the rim but shooting the ball right through the glass windows on the garage door. The couple looks at him – he looks at the couple: you want to get away?

Well, Jesus wanted to get away and so he gets up and heads northwest toward the region of Tyre and Sidon.  Now, a great question to ask for discussion later would be: why? Why did Jesus need to be hidden or want to be hidden? Maybe he was tired and needed rest? Maybe he wanted to demonstrate further about what is truly clean and unclean?

Transition: It’s the last part of this verse that lets us in on the story – though he wanted to be, Jesus couldn’t be hidden! This desperate momma finds out about him and makes an appearance. So, point #1, there is this need to get away. Point #2 –

II.     A Desperate Mother Discovers His Whereabouts (25-26)

exp.: Now, we know very little about this woman, but look at what Mark does tell us:

  1. Her problem: rd v 25;
    1. A demon possessed daughter; That’s what this means; I think Mark uses this word, unclean because it fits with his theme. What is clean and unclean: what is unclean is the demon inside this little girl – not the girl. So, desperate is she that she comes and falls down at his feet. What humility! Surely she knows he Jewish. Surely she knows he’s a man. Middle eastern behavior would frown upon this. Mark down this character trait: humility. Rd v 26a;
    2. A Woman, not just a woman, but a Gentile woman! And, if this were not enough, she is Syrophoenician by birth! Talk about unclean in the eyes of the Pharisees. When you read this, a certain woman should pop into your minds. Can you name a king who married a Syrophoenician woman? Can you name that evil woman?

Ill.: I read somewhere that the Jewish men pray daily a prayer of thanks – that they weren’t born: Women, slaves, or Gentiles.

That’s just how poor of a view the Jews had toward Gentiles. Maybe they still do – I don’t know.

app.: for some reason, this doesn’t matter to her. She’s desperate. Her daughter needs help and she believes Jesus is the only one who can save her daughter. Now, this really comes out in the last sentence of v 26; here we see…

  1. Her persistence: rd 26b; this word translated begged is really more of an interpretation, I think. You see, the word actually means asked or requested. If you translate it straight out – word for word, you lose something. In the original language here, there are two ways of describing past tense: aorist, is simple past tense (she asked); imperfect tense shows action in the past (she kept on asking); That’s the picture here: she wouldn’t leave him alone.

app.: So there is a persistent request from a desperate mother in spite of the fact that Jesus desires to remain hidden. And, why not? What really does she have to lose? At this point, an odd thing happens…

III.    Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way (27-29)

exp.: Jesus answers her in a way that shocks even the most hard-hearted of people. Rd v 27; this is strange or odd because Jesus uses…

  • A Strange Illustration: Jesus uses what is called the ‘Family Table’ illustration to refuse her request. Now, we could go so many places from here, but I’ll just save that for your Bible Study time. For now, I want you to just note that there is a theme in Mark about eating and eating at the table. There is the idea of fellowship, and more importantly, fellowship with Jesus. In this illustration, Jesus speaks of Children and their eating of bread. It isn’t that the dogs aren’t to be fed, but that the children are to be fed first. It isn’t odd that Jesus uses a ‘Family Dinning Experience’ as an illustration – that’s not odd. The odd part is that…
  • Jesus compares or relates exorcism to the family dining table. Now, that’s just weird. Let that sink in: Jesus, I have a daughter who has a demon in her. Will you cast it out of her, please? How in the world does he get to the dinner table from there?

Remember this trick: when you aren’t sure of what Jesus is doing, try to figure out the easy, obvious answers.

  • Children – The Children of Israel. The OT uses this comparison repeated. I think it is safe to assume these children in his analogy are the Children of Israel; They are fed first; 1st means priority. It doesn’t mean that no one else within or outside of the family won’t eat! It’s just that the children in our illustration have priority. So, 1st answer we have is
  • Fed – lit.: to be satisfied, or to eat their fill; This word appears 2 other times in the Mark; both are when Jesus feeds the 5,000 and the 4,000; The beatitudes: Matt 5.“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. We see this also in the parable of Lazarus, who desired to be filled or satisfied by the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. At this stage, I think it is safe to say that the Gospel is what satisfies and it is to be presented to the Children of Israel first. It’s a matter of timing. This demonstrates the Priority in the Gospel; as Paul writes 3x’s to the Romans: to the Jew first, and then the Gentile. Still, pretty straight forward. Next,
  • Bread – v 27; the children’s bread; here is another example of Bread being used by Mark in these three chapters (6-8); now because of our previous work on this topic, we know that the Bread is Jesus. We will probably see it each week until we reach the halfway point of Mark; in each analogy, we see that Jesus is the Bread of Life (27); To be sure, it is a lot of work to get there, and I’ll refer you to last week’s sermon to study up on the Bread of Life But, there is no doubt that Jesus is the Bread in this illustration: he is the one who fills and satisfies the soul. His priority is 1st to the Children of Israel. Here is where it get’s ugly…rd 27b
  • Dogs – that’s a harsh word. There is no way to clean that up in translation. So, before we talk about this word, can I say a word about my Savior? Again – remember, when you don’t understand something, go with what you know – what are the obvious answers.
    • He is good and merciful. He isn’t mean and hateful. So, I know right away, that he doesn’t mean what I might think it means in the 21st century; this isn’t Jesus being mean and hateful. He is perfect and no sin dwells in him. He isn’t selfish or even rude. He isn’t being ugly to her because she found him when he was trying to remain hidden.
    • 2ndly, He knows everything. He knows what I need before I even do.

ill.: I’ve seen him have someone in another county or another state write a check to cover my needs before I even know I’m going to need it. The need appears and then, so does the check, which was written last week.

This is what I know about Jesus: He knows what this woman needs! And what he says to her is what she needs to hear. It may not be what I’d say. It might not be the thing to say in western culture. But, it is what she needs to hear.

  • The word ‘dog’ or ‘dogs’ appears 9x’s in the NT; Over 40x’s in the Bible; This particular word from the Gk only appears 4 times. That caught my attention. It turns out there is another word translated dog. These two words come from the same root; however, this word here, is slightly different. It means a small dog, a housedog or even a lap dog. This would be common for Gentiles, because Jews would not have dogs. The other word is for big, wild dogs that roam freely. It is a euphemism for the immoral and/or evil people. That word isn’t this word. Jesus uses a word that she is culturally familiar with. I don’t know this, but I’m guessing that Jesus uses a word that is close to her situation – a word that she will take to heart; a word that she will understand and connect with. That changes the meaning for me. I couldn’t find a translation that made this distinction. But it is there – and that changes so much for me. Jesus isn’t using a word to describe the immoral and perverted (cf. Ps 22.16: 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—).

So, here we have this strange confrontation. Jesus answers her repeated request with just what she needs to hear. He’s taking her somewhere in this conversation. There is something he wants to see from her. And, it looks like he gets what he’s looking for in her; rd 28; I love this!

  • A Witty Response: Lord, even the little, house dogs under the table eat from the crumbs of the children.

Take a moment and check out her demeanor: We’ve already seen that she is showing humility in her posture and desperation. Now we see her wit and wisdom in her response. She could have gotten offended and walked away, leaving her daughter to continue suffering. But there is something more. And it is her faith. She wants this bread, and even if it’s just the crumbs from the bread – it is enough.

Wow! Oh, to have this kind of faith in Jesus. So great and mighty is he, that all she needs is just a crumb and it will suffice to save her daughter.

Now, you don’t see this here, but it is clearer in Matthew’s gospel: Jesus is impressed with her.

Ill.: I kind of had this experience once. Kind of… Stephen was 16 years old. He hadn’t had his license for very long and he came and asked if he could drive out into the Bad Lands with his friends and build a bonfire. I didn’t even give him a chance to explain what they were doing, who was going, etc. I just shut him down by saying NO! He didn’t even hesitate. He simply said yes, sir. No sadness, No disappointment, just, simple obedience. Yes, sir. Then he turned to leave.

I said, wait. Aren’t you going to debate this with me? Aren’t you going to argue with me until you get your way? He told me no. He asked and I gave my answer and that was enough. I was blown away. I asked him to tell me more about this bonfire out in the middle of nowhere. Then, I let him go.

Jesus is moved somewhat like that. He’s caught off guard by this woman’s wise and witty response. So impressed with this woman’s humility and faith, that he grants her request for her daughter. Rd v 29;

  • A Timely Grant: On account of the word, depart (imperative); The demon has come out (perfect) of your daughter. Now, you don’t see this in the English translation, but the Gk verb here uses the perfect tense. The perfect tense means a current state, based on a past action: meaning, as Jesus is saying the words, the demon has already gone. The girl is no longer possessed. Rd v 30

Application: So, what will we take home with us today?

  1. Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t! I can’t answer for your struggles. I can’t place blame or offer any defense for what Jesus is doing in your life. But this I know: Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t!
    1. Can I add to that? He knows what others need, too. You might think you know best for others – no matter what your intentions are – But he still knows what is best for them. It may seem harsh. It may seem unfair, But, he really does know what is best. And, he knows what he’s doing in their life.
  2. God rewards faith and humility demonstrated in him. This Gentile woman is a remarkable model of faith. Knowing God can do something and living your life in response to that knowledge are two different things altogether! It is one thing to say something, but another to live it out. Think of the woman from Zarephath in 1 Kings 17: You have a jar with a little flour left and a jar with a little oil left. But, to make a loaf of bread for your guest and feed him first means so much more than simply acknowledging with your mind and mouth who that person is.
  3. Salvation has now become accessible to all.
    1. Yes, there is a priority to the Gospel. That hasn’t changed. Israel still is God’s chosen people and I am opposed to how our government is now treating Israel. The blessings of Genesis 12 remain as true today as they did when God spoke them to Abraham. With that being said, we also know that the Gospel is universal in scope.
    2. The Gospel is for the entire world. We saw this when Jesus healed the Gadarene Demoniac. Jesus healed him and sent him as an evangelist, as a missionary to the Decapolis. Now, we see it again with this Canaanite Woman.
      1. We’re reminded in 1 Kings 17 that it has always been that way. Somehow, in their Jewish minds, they had thought of themselves as better than others.
      2. God reminded them through prophets like Isaiah who said (49.6): I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Let us remember this: the poor, the needy, the desperate, the single mom, the foreigner, the sinner – Christ died for the ungodly, to bring the ungodly to God.
  • Listen to Galatians 3.6-9: just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 

 

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Israel, Mark, missions, Scripture

SENT Conference: David & Goliath

Title: Becoming something greater than yourself!

Text: 1 Samuel 17

CIT: God’s faithfulness to David gave him the faith to stand, fight and defeat Goliath.

CIS: We can place our faith in Christ because he has conquered sin and death.

Introduction: Today’s story is a story you’re probably pretty familiar with. I’m guessing you’ve heard this story dozens and dozens of times. The story is about a kid and a giant. The kid’s name is David. The Giant – Goliath. The story is located in 1 Samuel 17; Turn there with me.

Most days I receive a NYTimes briefing. The idea is that I’ll find stories I wish to follow up on and read them. It works, by the way. At the conclusion of each briefing there is a Back Story. The following story was taken from the briefing.

Cracker Jack… The 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played this week in San Diego. It was nice to see the American League win. I’m hoping it pays dividends when the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series – that is if they can bounce back for their last 13 ugly games. The All-Star game is a fine summer tradition, but here’s one that goes back even further: Eating Cracker Jack at the ballpark. The gooey treat’s origins go back to 1872, when F. W. Rueckheim, a German immigrant, began selling candy and popcorn in Chicago. By the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Rueckheim and his brother, Louis, created a confection of molasses, peanuts and popcorn that millions of fairgoers gobbled up.

They perfected their recipe by 1896 when — legend has it — a salesman tasted a sample and shouted, “That’s crackerjack!” If you google Cracker Jack online, you’ll find the definition: exceptionally good; an exceptionally good person or thing. Translation for this man: it was fantastic. A name and a brand (it’s singular, not plural) were born, and the brothers began packaging and advertising the concoction.

Just to add to the story, the company first issued coupons in the boxes that could be redeemed for household items at a store in Chicago. It switched to “A Prize in Every Box” in 1912. The prizes went digital this spring, after billions of trinkets were distributed.

But I think the coolest part of the story is that Cracker Jack’s timelessness is wrapped up in one of the best-known songs in history:

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

I don’t care if I never get back,

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

At the old ball game.

Now, that’s pretty cool for Frito-Lay, who owns Cracker Jack. There aren’t too many mlb games where that song isn’t heard. That’s free publicity for Cracker Jack. No wonder they’ve been around so long! Now, Cracker Jack is a small thing compared with major league baseball. A really small thing! How cool it must be for them to be a part of something so much larger.

As we look at 1 Samuel 17 and review the story of David and Goliath, I’m hoping you’ll desire to be a part of something so much larger than yourself.

Dr. Viktor Frankl is credited with saying: He who has a why can bear any how. I think what he meant by that statement is that purpose can give someone meaning. A purpose to life can empower someone to face the most difficult of circumstances.

Now, just how do these come together: purpose & meaning? Being a part of something so much greater than your self? We don’t have time read all of the verses in 1 Samuel 17, so with your permission, I’d like to present an outline of the story. It moves as follows:

  1. In v. 1-11, we meet the Philistines. They are Israel’s enemy.
  2. In v. 12-18 we meet David and his family and find out a little of what they do. They are some of the main players in this story.
  3. In v. 19-30, David is tasked by his father with the job of taking food to his brothers at the front where battle lines have been drawn up between the two armies. He is then to return and give a report to his father. So David takes supplies to them. It is here at the front David learns of Goliath, the fear the Israelite men have toward Goliath and the reward for the man who would face and defeat him. David said, “I’ll do it. I’ll take him on.”
  4. Here then, is where we pick up the story (31-50). I’ve entitled this section:

 

I.      David’s Faith: David Intercedes for the Fearful Israelites (31-50)

We note first His Confidence. Rd v 31-32

  • His Confidence: Now where does someone get such confidence? If you break this word down into two parts, you’ve got con – which means “with” and fide, which means “faith”; most literally then it means to have full faith and trust with… someone, something. For David, He tells us clearly where his faith is: rd v 37; 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” – Saul doesn’t say: Go and your faith be with you. Or go in this confidence you have. He says: Go, and the Lord (all caps) be with you. David’s confidence was in the LORD and only in him. Now, why? Why was this so? He tells us in this same verse: “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear; David says: Saul, come here, check this out. Let me show you my game room. Do you know what a game room is? For a hunter, it is the place he displays his trophies.

Ill.: Down south of Austin, my in-laws have a ranch. My father-in-law built a cabin on that ranch. In the cabin is a trophy wall mount of an elk I shot in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Hunters love to tell stories of their trophies. I love to tell the story of how I shot that elk. What it was like field dressing the huge animal. Getting it down the mountain. It was the experience of a lifetime. I love it when someone sees it hanging over the fireplace and asks, “who shot that?” They always want to know more.

App.: David is like: Saul, let me show you my game room. See that lion? That lion came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And when he rose up against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him down and killed him.

Come over here. See that bear? That bear came into camp all hungry and grumpy. He tried to have his way by getting a free meal, but I struck him down. Now, he’s just that sweet throw rug.

Confidence comes in the Lord and in his work in and through you. How are you able to stand? Because I’ve been here before. This ain’t my first rodeo!

T.S.: So, note 1st his confidence in the Lord and what the Lord has done through David. 2ndly, we notice his …

  • His Strategy:

Rd v 38; Saul is thinking to himself that this kid is in deep trouble. Who has better armor than the King? So, let’s get him geared up! Rd v 39; Here is an application that I’m not sure we can teach. David senses that this isn’t going to work. This is called discernment. This armor has served the king well. It is probably the best armor in the kingdom. But, David knows this isn’t for him. Discernment is a gift from the Lord. But I think there is a great application for us here: Go with what you know! That’s what David does; rd v 40;

Transition: So, David gears up and makes his way toward Goliath. This is the third point:

  • His Actions:
  1. You might expect Goliath to laugh, but he doesn’t. Read 41-44; Goliath disdains David and defies God by putting his trust in his gods and in his weapons.; David recognizes his failure and points it out; rd v 45; what a sharp contrast; Goliath in his ‘things’ – even his gods are things;
  2. David, however, puts his faith in God alone for God’s glory alone; rd 46-47; Goliath makes his move toward David, and David doesn’t hesitate; rd v 48;
  3. David runs to the battle line. Rd 49a;

Ill.: I love to run; I carry a ‘fanny pack’; it’s not really that, but it is similar; It has a water carrier and bottle and it has a pouch for my phone and keys; I can carry money. Can I just say it aint easy to run and put your hand into your pouch. 2nd, From time to time, I take off my shirt and swing it around to get rid of some pesky flies that are trying to land on me. I sling it around and around, taking out any bees, wasps, or giant flies that are trying to land on my. I’m thinking that David had done this before. Only because I know this isn’t easy.

  1. But, David hits Goliath with the perfect shot. (49-50) Keep reading; rd v 51;
  2. David took his own sword and cut off the giant’s head. He said he was going to do that when he didn’t even have a sword (cf.: v 46). When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. I have a vivid imagination: I picture the people, especially the Philistines screaming at the top of the lungs: Kill that kid! Hah! Rip his head off! Teach him a lesson! Then, puff, just like that, it is over and their champion lies on the ground. I’ll bet it got quiet real quick like. David runs and stands over the giant – taking his sword and cutting off his head. The roar of the Israelites rises quickly as David picks up the Giant’s head by the hair and shows his people! The Philistines, though, their jaws drop – their eyes just about pop out with disbelief. And then they take off running! When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Transition: Well, you know the rest of the story. It’s the conclusion to the story: The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

Conclusion: V. The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

  1. Israel’s Pursuit of the Philistines (51-52)
  2. Israel Plunders the Philistines (53)
  3. Post Remarks: David’s Victory with the Giant’s head in his hands. (54-58)

Transition: So Fred, how does this apply to missions? I’ve come here to learn about missions!

Yesterday, I stopped in to see a friend. 8 years ago, he and his wife sold everything to return home to missionaries to his family for one year. That was a big deal because he from Austria. Their goal was to spend the year with family, live the Christian life and share Christ with the people they love.

While they were there they searched hard for a church. They found a house church and became a part of it. It wasn’t easy. They made friends, they found jobs – his wife learned the language. But after a year they returned to Tyler and started their lives back up. As far as they could tell, they had made some friends in a house church, but none in his family came to Christ.

Since returning they’ve had two beautiful little girls. The youngest has yet to return to the homeland to meet family. A few weeks ago, my friend got a phone call that his father came home from work and fell over dead. No warning. No sickness. No nothing.

What hurts so bad is that my friend has tickets to return to Austria next week. He had planned a 2 week vacation with the sole purpose that his daddy might see his little girl face to face. They called the airline and tried to get things changed, but the airline would only do it for fee – a fee too large for my friend and his family to pay.

So he bought a ticket home for himself. That’s why I stopped in to see him. Losing your dad at 62 is hard. Losing your dad at any age is hard. I wanted to know how he was doing. Well, it’s been hard. His parents were divorced years ago. There is a will from the 80’s. Other people are a part of the family now. It goes on and on and if you’ve ever dealt with that stuff you know the struggle.

But in this process, He was able to sit down with his mom for a long visit. As he talked she told him he sounded like this guy she met who works with her. Some months ago she started selling Tupperware and met a young man in their group who is a Christian. It just so happens that this man was a friend of my friend. They met in a house church 8 years ago. He told his mom why they sound so much alike – why they sound so positive, even in hard times – He told his mom about Christ. And after presenting the gospel to her – 8 years after living there and not seeing any fruit from his labor, she prayed with him to receive Christ.

Transition: Becoming a part of something so much larger than yourself isn’t quick and easy. It isn’t something you can script. It means surrendering yourself to God’s will, even when you don’t understand it. So let me offer a couple of take-a-ways…

Application:

  1. The author wants to demonstrate the Glory of God over Israel’s enemies by taking what seems like certain defeat and bringing about his victory through the young man, David. Listen up, Missions in your church and in your life is much the same: God wants to demonstrate his glory through you. If the task looks too big for you, it probably is, but it isn’t for God! Your mission endeavor isn’t so much about you and your church. No, not really – It’s about God’s Glory. I feel confident in saying that God’s more concerned about His glory than just about anything else.
  2. Let your faith develop by trusting God in the small matters. Begin your mission work around your house, around your city. David did what he did and he did it the way he knew how because of his success in the smaller things. Grow from where you are. As God builds and strengthens your faith, move out from there. Start with what you know. God will teach you more as he grows you.
  3. We’ve got to stop thinking of the Gospel as transforming lives only through perfect vessels. God uses the weak to confound the wise. Saul’s armor was probably the best in the land, but it wasn’t what David needed nor what God was going to use. Here’s another application that fits with this idea: The sins of our past can be testimonies to the grace and forgiveness of God. That was my friend’s message to his mother. Sinners need to know they can be forgiven. We may not be the best speaker, we may not be the prettiest or the sharpest. But, if we’re a tool in the hands of God, watch out! 2 Corinthians 12.10: 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  4. We can trust God to bring about victory in our mission through Christ who has come to redeem us from our enemy. God accomplished this by sending his Son to die a criminal’s death on a cross – a symbol of weakness. If you’ve never experienced the grace and compassion of God, I offer that Grace and compassion to you right now. Today is the day of Salvation. Today is the day of forgiveness. We’re going to dismiss shortly, but if you want to accept Christ this morning – come find me. I’d like to tell you how.
  5. You can be a part of something larger than you. You can become Cracker Jack missionary. Once you realize that God is working through you to Glorify himself – it becomes so much easier. You’re not worried about you. You’re not worried about your church. Your concern for God’s glory gives you the why – and you can face any how!

 

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Filed under 1 Samuel, Calling, Faith, missions, Purpose, Scripture, Uncategorized

Mark 6.1-34

Title: What does it mean to follow Christ?

Text: Mark 6.1-34

What does it mean to follow Christ? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Is the call of God different for everyone? Is the call different for anyone? What does Christ mean here: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Most of us read the passage and we identify these remarks as being for someone else: someone who is called to a special ministry. We don’t normally associate these words with becoming a Christian. Do you agree?

Oh wait! We do – like when we witness to someone. But once someone becomes a Christian, we don’t think it really applies anymore. Do we?

Do we? Really?

This morning we’ll take a look at some different ‘ministries’ in Mark. These stories are similar and yet, very different.

  1. We have Jesus – the ultimate authority on ministry – and the rejection of those who knew him as he tried to minister to them.
  2. We’ll look at his disciples who go and expand his ministry.
  3. And we’ll look at John. John demonstrates for us someone who was called and suffered for his ministry.
  4. Finally, we’ll look back at the report of the disciples and the attempt for rest after ministry.

Transition: let’s begin with a quick review of last week’s message.

I.      The Ministry of Jesus (1-6)

exp.: We don’t need to repeat this message, but I wanted to include it here because it seems to clearly fit the emphasis of the cost of discipleship. Even Christ was rejected when he did ministry.

  • The Pharisees rejected him earlier (3.1-6).
  • His family rejected him, too (later in ch. 3).
  • His hometown rejected him, as well.

Isaiah said of him: He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

app.: The summary of his ministry there is found in v 5: And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And, in this we find a warning: no student is above his teacher, no servant above his master. We must remember this as we move into v7.

t.s.: with this experience of rejection fresh in the minds of his disciples, Jesus sends them out…

II.     The Ministry of the Apostles (7-13)

exp.: rd v 7;

  • He summons: called them to him (προσκαλέω; Summoned them, called them to himself)
  • He sends: began to send them out two by two; to send is the Gk word for which we get apostle: it means commissioned or sent with a mission. And this mission comes out in giving them authority.
  • He gave them authority over unclean spirits; You’ll see them exercise this authority when we get down to v 13.
  • He charged them to trust God for their provision: their orders; rd v 8-9;
    • Basic necessities – food, clothes, money.
    • Basic etiquette rd v 10;
    • Knowing when it’s time to go; rd 11

app.: They did what Jesus sent them to do; rd v 12-13; this was the purpose all along: Mk 3.14-15 – 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.

t.s: Now these twelve have gone out by the authority of Jesus. We come to this interlude and we hear of another ministry.

III.   The Ministry of John (14-29)

exp.: i.e.: John the Baptizer; This story of John is born out of a need for explanation. Herod is questioning who Jesus might be. Maybe this arises from the Apostle’s who’ve been commissioned by Jesus through his authority. Who is this Jesus? Maybe they are asked by what authority they do these things. Their answer of course would be: Jesus. Herod seems to be thinking something similar: Who is this Jesus? Herod thinks he could be John, the baptizer whom he had put to death earlier. This would not make sense to the reader because nothing has been said about John since chapter one. So, Mark educates us with his story:

Now listen carefully, I’m going to make this simple: Verse 16 says Herod had John beheaded. Herod didn’t really want to kill him. He did it at the request of Salome – But she probably didn’t want it either. You see, it was really her mother, Herodias, who was Philip’s wife. Well, she was his wife, but now she was Philip’s brother’s wife. Evidently there was some shady stuff going on there. So, The reason is because his step-daughter, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, his new wife, or she was his niece because she was the daughter of his half brother Philip who was at one time married to Herodias, or maybe we should say Salome was his grandniece because Herodias, his wife, was also his half brother Aristobolus’s daughter. Anyway, that lady, she’s the one who had asked for John’s head on a platter. Clear?

Listen, this is a tangled web of men named Herod. These guys all were all related to each other by their father. Their actions were sinful and John’s call was to call them to repentance. John does just what Jesus has called others to do…he calls Herod and Herodias to repent of their sinful behavior. People don’t like that. People don’t like to have their sin called out.

  • If you are meeting up with a woman who isn’t your wife – that’s adultery!
  • If this person you’re hooking up with is of the same gender – that’s Homosexuality and according to Scripture, it is sinful behavior!
  • If you were born with a certain genitalia, then you’re a man. If not, you’re a woman. If you have trouble with this, get some help. Pretending to be something you’re not is sinful and harmful.
  • If you feel like you are a cat or a dog – that’s not natural. You need help.

When you call people to repentance, it is offensive. People don’t want to repent. Ok, John is standing under their balcony calling them to repent. I’m assuming others can hear this preaching of repentance. If someone is in sin and doesn’t want to repent, he or she will get angry and defensive. That’s exactly what happens to Herodias. And we’re just like she is: We all want others to embrace us in our sin. Tell us it is ok, so we can keep doing it.

John will die because he refuses to back down from the calling of his ministry. He gives us a foretaste of what Jesus will endure because he will not back down from his ministry.

Before we leave John, I’d like to look at some parallels between Jesus and John. In these 1st three points we have the ministries of Jesus, the disciples, and John. John, however, isn’t to be compared with the disciples, but rather with Jesus.

ill.: There are many parallels between Jesus and John.

John is not just a model “follower” of Jesus. He’s different than the disciples who go in Christ’s authority. These are baby steps for the disciples. In a couple of years, the mantle will be laid upon them and they’ll go pro. But, for now, they still have training wheels on. John is in the Big Leagues. Listen to Craig Blomberg, how he parallels the ministry of John w/ Jesus’: John is the forerunner of the Messiah, and his death serves as a foreshadowing and preview of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Both Jesus and John are arrested for challenging the powers that be. Both are put to death by self-seeking rulers who know their victims are innocent but vacillate under pressure and choose expediency over justice. The bodies of both are taken and buried by sympathetic followers. After John’s death, rumors arise that he has risen from the dead. But Jesus actually does rise from the dead!

These implicit parallels between John and Jesus in Mark find similar expression in the other gospels. In Luke, for example, the births of Jesus and John are paralleled, heralded by angelic announcements and miraculous conceptions (Luke 1). Yet in this parallelism, Jesus is shown to be the superior. John’s birth to a barren woman is a miracle (like similar births in the OT), but Jesus’ birth to a virgin is unprecedented. While John is “prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76; cf. 1:17), Jesus is the “Son of the Most High” (1:32). John’s role is to prepare the way for the Lord (1:17, 76); Jesus is that Lord—the Savior, who is Messiah and Lord (2:11; cf. 1:43).

This theme is carried forward in John’s public ministry. John says that the one who will come after him is so much greater than he that John is not worthy to unlatch his sandals. While John baptizes with water, Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit (1:7–8). Jesus must increase, while John must decrease (John 3:3). Here we find the true essence of discipleship. It is following Christ’s model, but always in service to him. It is a willingness to give up one’s life, not for our own glory, but for the glory of Christ.

app.: that’s what we se in v 27ff; rd 27-29; as we read v 27-29 we are saddened. Jesus was, too. In each of the Gospels Jesus seeks to get away after the story of John is told. It isn’t as clear in Mark as it is in Matthew and Luke and John.

t.s: But even then, as Jesus tries to get his disciples the rest and refreshing they need, even as he tries to get the rest and refreshing he needs…they keep coming.

IV.    The Call to Ministry Persists (30-34)

exp.: Read v 30-34; His compassion compels him to care for their needs.

app.: Sometimes as a servant, you’re pushed. Maybe I should say often times. You may want to get away, but you can’t. The calendar won’t cooperate. People have things for you to do. They need you. This doesn’t diminish the need for rest and refreshment, but it might need to wait. My guess is the Christ is teaching his disciples of this important part of ministry: retreat, refresh, and repair.

So, what are the applications for us? I have chosen four.

Application:

  1. Summons to Ministry: this is different for each one called. No one is called to sit on the sidelines. If you are a believer, then you’re called to be a witness for Christ. But, your call is different. You must seek out God’s will for your life and follow in obedience. You can’t live out someone else’s call. And, BTW: you can’t just go…you must be sent out in his You don’t just think to yourself: ah, I want to see the world. You must be summoned by Christ and sent out in his authority.
  2. Service in Ministry: Each of us is called to different types of service. No one is called to exactly the same thing. I think of even my wife, whose calling is very similar to mine; however, it differs greatly. As for you, I can’t tell you what that is. I think you discover your area of service by trial and error. You sense a desire to serve here or there and you follow that passion. God opens and closes doors. Consider your unique position. Retired individuals have more time – not being held down by a job. Young people have energy, stamina and health on their side. And, BTW: don’t consider your area of service based on money or supplies. You don’t just think: well, I don’t have the money so I guess I can’t go. The charge is the same: don’t worry about food, clothes or money. God will provide for you as he sees fit. I can’t say this is always the case, but I see God wants you to learn to trust him to provide for you in miraculous ways. That is how you learn to trust him in the ministry.
  3. Sacrifice in Ministry: You can’t surrender to ministry without offering a sacrifice at some level. Some, however, give more than others. John demonstrates for us a willingness to remain faithful to his calling. The spiritual gift of Martyrdom is a one-time gift. The call of God on your life might mean leaving the place you live and work. It might mean leaving your family and friends. The call of God on your life means you must sacrifice your desires and follow His. It might mean being educated. It might mean changing professions. I don’t know what God has in store for you. But, I know from experience: your life is no longer your own. You are bought at a price. You now belong to him – and what he says for your life – that is what you must now do.
  4. Success in Ministry: I hate that we (and I include myself in this) judge people in their ministry as successful or as a failure. We see larger churches, bigger youth ministries, larger and more dynamic worship programs and we measure all others by that standard. I wonder how many ministries we would label as success and try to emulate, when Christ would label that ministry a failure. Was John’s ministry a success? How so? His final place of ministry was a prison cell and from there, he was beheaded. How do you measure success? Is the pastor who works in a small church his whole life unsuccessful? What if he remains bi-vocational his whole ministry? Ultimately, success is measured through obedience.

What is your ministry? What has God called you to do? What does it mean to follow Christ?

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Filed under Church Membership, Mark, missions, Purpose, Scripture, Sermons, Uncategorized

Follow Me: A Commissioning Service

Title: Follow Me – A Commissioning Service

Text: Acts 13.1-12

Introduction: Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re at T-minus and counting! There is excitement in the air. I’m pumped. If you’re not, we need to pray for you. This small congregation has surrendered itself to the Lord in the area of missions and God is doing mighty things! What, you say? Some of you don’t know what I’m talking about? Let ‘splain!

In Early August of 2011, I saw that the Executive Director of the SBTC was planning on issuing a challenge to Texas Baptist. Here’s what the Article read: Grapevine, August 9, 2011.

GRAPEVINE: The Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention granted $1 million from reserve funds to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and encouraged churches in Texas to “embrace” 1,000 of the 3,800 unengaged people groups identified by Southern Baptist’s International Mission Board.

With over half of the world’s 7 billion people having little or no access to the gospel and the 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups having no one telling them about Jesus, the IMB encourages local churches to begin with church-wide focused prayer.

This challenge would be for churches in Texas to embrace 1000 UUPG: Unreached, Unengaged People Groups. I had no idea what this was. So I had to do a little research. I called the convention headquarters in Dallas and ask them what this challenge was all about. I found it interesting that the folks there new very little of what the challenge was going to be. They could only tell me that we would hear more about this in the coming days.

Here’s what I eventually found out: A UUPG is an unreached, unengaged people group. There were at that time over 3800 UUPG’s in the world. The Classification of a PG or A people group: is a group of people bound together by a common Language and culture. What makes them common is that the gospel can move within this group unhindered. However, when the gospel encounters boundaries and barriers that hinder its transmission – then evangelism stops. The people within the boundaries would be called a people group. Now, when less than 2% of a population within a specific people group are Christians, then they are considered unreached. As of yesterday, according to the Joshua Project, there are 6564 unreached people groups. They may have churches, pastors, missionaries, Bible studies–but there is less than 2% of that population is considered Christian–then these people are unreached.

A population is considered unengaged when within that people group there is no pastor, there are no churches, there is no Bible study, they have no missionaries working among them. So A UUPG is a people group that has no missionaries – no Bible studies – no pastor and less than 2% of the population is considered Christian. The latest number I could find on Unreached, Unengaged People Groups is that the # has dropped over the last 4 years from 3800 UUPG’s to 1,568 people groups.

Well, a presentation was made to the church–and it appeared to me that the church embraced this challenge. We set our sights on keeping this before the Lord in prayer. Where would he have us go? Who would he have us Focus on? We began by looking at three areas of the world where our current missionaries were serving: Africa, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. One by one we were able too narrow the field down to a focus on East Asia. Then, we looked at three UUPG’s located near some missionaries we know. After nearly a year of prayer, we found our people.

In October 2013 we sent a vision team to look for this UUPG. It was a long journey, but very rewarding. After three days of travel as we pulled into a local village in the mountains, we saw with our own eyes the people you are looking at in pictures on the screen.

This vision team came back and reported to the church that it just isn’t practical to send teams each year. What we need is “boots on the ground” there, to coordinate our efforts – to be there to receive our people on short-term mission trips. Let me show you something cool.

What you are looking at is inside a brochure entitled The Top 31 UUPG’s ***** ***** *****. Go down a few pages to our UUPG. That picture and that information is accurate with what we found and saw.

Today that brochure becomes inaccurate! Because, listed in this group is our people. The people group we’ve chosen. Today we are going to commission two of our very own people to go as missionaries to this UUPG. Indeed, they are no longer called an un-reached, Unengaged people group. Today they’ve become a UPG – simply an unreached people group. And with the blessing and favor of our God, in the coming months and years, we will remove that final U. They’ll simply become another People Group of the world.

Transition: And this brings me to why we’re here today – to commission this couple that we’ve asked to serve on the mission field to help us engage and reach our UUPG. Let’s open our Bibles to Acts and take a look at what a commission service is all about.

In Acts 13, we see a church being successful – we see a church doing and being what a church is supposed to be doing and being. We see it from the inside and we see it from the outside. How do I know it was successful? How can that be measured?

We find these people were so Christ-like in their deportment that the community around them called them Christians, or Little Christs. I’m sure they heard: they’re just like their Lord.

Then, in our passage, we see them doing the work that a church has been called to do.

Observe the church at Antioch. You’ll find two areas of work:

  1. The Work of the Church in obedience to the Great Commission.
  2. The Work of the Holy Spirit in light of the Great Commission.

Transition: Let’s look first at the Work of the Church. Allow me to put it in the form of a question:

What precedes going on mission?

  1. The Work of the Church in obedience to the Great Commission.

Let’s look at their Spiritual Leadership: rd v. 1; note: names; Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, Saul (Paul); What are they doing? We find 4 actions on the part of the Leadership: Worshipping & Fasting, then, Laying on of hands and sending them out.

  • Worshipping – there are 4 words in the NT translated worship
    • προσκυνέω: to kiss the hand; meaning to bow;
    • σέβω: this deals more with attitude toward someone; As in to ‘revere’ someone or something; This is something that happens to me when I hear a testimony. I’m moved inside, at the greatness and kindness of God. He amazes me.
    • θρῆσκος: Thray-skos; It’s like three in spanish w/ kos on the end; Col 2.18; every other time this word is used, it is translated It has the connatation of ceremonies;
    • λατρεύω: Eng.: liturgy or liturgical; it mean service and is used to describe the work of the priest in the Temple. In other words, worship is an action – it’s not passive. I could lead you in a responsive reading time. Give thanks to the Lord our God and King. His love endures forever. For he is good he is above all things. His love endures forever. This is the word being used here. These men were leading their congregation to Worship the Lord.

app.: we often think of worship in the 1st two manners: bowing, reverence; but we don’t think of our worship in terms of our service. These leaders were worshipping the Lord in their service to him; Cont. reading v 2-3;

  • Fasting & Prayer: I have asked the elders to join with me in fasting and praying for you today. I think most people consider our work to be done in the office or in meetings and in planning things, etc. Acts 6.1-4: But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” This should be our priority.
    • According to A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and Hebrew Bible, the word ‘prayer’ in Acts 6 can also be translated ‘worship’. It is a picture of someone bowing on their face before God and offering supplication. That same word is used in our passage in v 3;
    • Ministry of the Word is preaching and teaching. Paul warns Timothy time and again to keep a close eye on his doctrine, making sure his preaching and teaching is sound and healthy.

I have two reason for placing an emphasis on this today.

  1. It is a reminder to the church of what the elders are called to do.
  2. It is a lesson of what you’ll be doing.

exp.: your basic function is to serve as a church planter – the Bible calls this an Apostle. We’re commissioning you today to go to our UUPG and ultimately, plant a church. Our hopes and dreams are that you’ll share the gospel; people will be saved under the gospel; they will be discipled under the gospel and they’ll be obedient to the gospel and serve faithfully the gospel; leading many to Christ. Wah-Lah, that’s a church! You’re doing the work of Paul. You’re being sent out to plant churches in the midst of our UUPG. And on the Great Day as we’re gathered around the throne, we will see members of our UUPG there next to us worshipping God. Many of them your friends – people you’ve prayed with and taught.

Look back at v3; here’s a third action

  • Laying on of hands: BTW: this is a participle also. Lit.: fasting and praying and laying their hands on them. According to Hebrews 6.2, this was an elementary doctrine in the early church; it basically conveys the idea of blessing and commission. It was seen in Scripture when Jesus was healing people and when people were receiving the Holy Spirit. Paul experienced both when Ananias laid his hands on Paul – his sight returned and he was saved. Not only that, but he received his commission at the same moment. He was told he would be Christ’s witness to the Gentiles and kings and to the children of Israel.

Transition: Leadership is seen in their worship, or service, their fasting and prayer, their laying on of hands and then sending them off.

  • They sent them off. Breaking this down grammatically, this is the verb. The work this leadership group did was they sent them off on a mission. They way they did this is described in their worshipping and praying and laying on of hands. The word here in the Gk isn’t your typical word for sent them on their way. You see that in v 4. The Holy Spirit is actually doing the sending in this passage. The literal translation, the literal wording for what they did is they released them or they set them free.

App.: Mom and Dad, in your position as leaders, this is what you’re supposed to do: set them free. Like doves in your hands, throw them up to the Lord and let Him send them.

– Now, we’ve seen the work of the church, mainly through the leadership at Antioch. I’m sure others were there participating, worship, praying. But now, I want to focus in on the most important part of what is being done. And in doing so, I’m going to turn my attention to this young couple. I’ve asked the question: What precedes going? The answer is the work of the church through its leadership. 2nd, question…

What involves going? The Work of the Holy Spirit in light of your calling. You experienced this in His calling you to this service. In this section I’ve outline three actions on the part of the Holy Spirit. Rd v 2; #1…

  1. The Holy Spirit Calls – here’s a tip: Don’t go if you’re not called. Because if you do, you’ll go alone. (Those who went up to Ai in Joshua ) v. 2
    1. The Calling is the only thing that sustains you when:
      1. The Journey is long; v. 6; 1st they traveled by boat. Then they crossed the whole island (which is 100 miles long and some 60 miles wide).
      2. Facing opposition v. 8; you’re headed to a place you’re not wanted by some people; You’re sure to face opposition. Without the Holy Spirit’s call, you won’t make it.
  • Some will abandon you; v. 13; you know the story… this damaged the relationship John Mark had with Paul for many years.

Ill.: My prayer chair: I’ve have felt the struggle of those who hate me even from within the church. I’ve been asked to consider leaving: You sing well, you lead worship well and you’re a great preacher, so why don’t you grab your guitar and hit the road. The funny part of that story is that woman became one of my biggest supporters and loved me like a mom loves her son. At the end of my ministry there I would drive out to her house and drink coffee with her, while watching the sun come up.

App.: at those times, when people abandon you, when they insult you – even from within the church – you’ve got to go back to your call. I suggest you get a prayer chair – or something that takes you back to that calling. When you feel unsuccessful, that’s ok – you weren’t called to be ‘successful’ – go back to your calling. I could go on and on; however, let’s move on… #2

  1. The Holy Spirit Commissions – v. 4; the word here is accurate; whereas the church released them or set them free, here the Holy Spirit does the sending. A couple of notes:
    1. I think its interesting that they went to Cyprus because that is where Barnabas was from (Acts 4.36). I’m sure he had a desire to see his people saved. He was also familiar with the Island and the people.

I’m glad you served here first. Your ministries at Calvary and the ***** ***** has demonstrated your passion for ministry. Many people just want to go, but don’t serve where they are first.

  1. Sent w/ a mission; a task to do on behalf of the Holy Spirit. This is vitally important: you cannot go where the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead; you must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Acts 16.6-10

He will protect you. He will open doors for you. He will close doors for you. He will go before you. This is a 3rd time we see the Holy Spirit in this passage; look at verse 9

  1. The Holy Spirit Empowers – v. 9; understand that your work, what you do – must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Look at a couple of different areas:
    1. For Preaching – v. 5; proclaiming the Word of God – taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to these lost people. You need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. No matter how smart you are, no matter how eloquent you become in their language, no matter how gifted and talented – if the Holy Spirit doesn’t empower you then you’re just bring them your best dog and pony show. You might as well take your unicycle and bowling pins to juggle. But, if the Holy Spirit of God empowers you, then the powers of darkness will be defeated.
    2. For Teaching – v. 12; people will get saved as you teach in the power of the Holy Spirit. You must pray that God will take your limited human teaching and exalt it to a place that can be used by you. Don’t worry so much about being creative. Do worry so much about being witty and cute. Concern yourself with the written word of God.
      1. 1 Timothy 3.16 – 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
      2. Once you’ve led some people to Christ, they must be discipled. Dallas Willard, author of the Divine Conspiracy and Hearing God has said that success in ministry is having a vital relationship with God and the capacity to pass it on to others. That capacity comes from the Holy Spirit.

Church – give me your attention for a moment. Pay careful attention to what I’m about to declare, because I’m going to ask you to affirm it with your voices and with your bodies when I’m done.

Commissioning Service for Our missionaries

Minister:  Beloved, today we recognize the ministries of this couple and consecrate them to a special task in the service of Jesus Christ. Hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit shall abide; so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16)

“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 lo, I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

Missionaries, please stand.

Minister: In humble reliance upon divine grace, do you make it the supreme purpose of your lives to give of yourselves unreservedly over the course of the next two years to the work of Christ in your appointed field among this People Group?

Missionaries: We do.

Minister: Missionaries, in the name of this congregation, Calvary Baptist Church of Tyler, TX, I commend you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, our encouragement, and our support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

****Bring up two chairs: have the couple stand and face the congregation.****

Minister: Beloved, I commend to you this couple whom we this day have commissioned to be God’s servants as a part of the continual sharing of Christ’s great commission on Earth. If you agree with what I’ve said – if you promise to regularly pray for this couple, to encourage through letters, emails, gifts at times of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, to continue to support them through giving and even going to be with them when possible – will you signify your pledge by standing to your feet.

Missionaries,  Look at that support for you.

Church, you may be seated.

Minister:            Prayer of commissioning (Elders, other missionaries, the church)

**the names and the places and the people of our UUPG has been removed for security reasons.**

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Filed under Acts, Commissioning Service, missions

2 Corinthians 8.15-9.5

Title: A Letter of Commendation: The Three Apostles

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: Perhaps you’ve heard about the old miser who called his doctor, lawyer, and pastor to his deathbed. “They say that you can’t take it with you,” said the dying man, “but I will – I have a plan. I have three envelopes with $100,000 in cash in each one. I want each of you to take an envelope, and just before they close the casket, I want each of you to slip your envelope into my casket.” They all promised to do so. And at the end of the funeral they did it! On the way home, the conscience-stricken doctor confided in his friends, “I’m building a clinic, so I took $50,000 and put the rest in the coffin.” Then the lawyer fessed up, too, “I kept $75,000 for a legal defense fund and put $25,000 in.” At this, the preacher said, “Gentlemen, I’m ashamed of you. I’ll have you know I put in a check for the full amount!”

I guess it’s ok if I poke fun at ministers – I just happen to be one. And, I’m guessing you’ve heard your fair share of stories of pastors who have robbed the church. Even missionaries.

This is no joke:

Ex-IMB missionary sentenced to two years for stealing IMB missions Funds; AP January 26, 2015

Today’s passage is about the three men who were charged with the responsibility of collecting gifts from churches, specifically, the church in Corinth.

  • Three Apostles
  • Their Accountability
  • Paul’s Continued Appeal for the Collection

1.     Three Apostles: Three Brothers sent for the Collection (16-19a; 22)

exp.: Rd v 16-17; just as the Corinthians had accepted the challenge to give to the needy in Jerusalem, Titus had accepting the challenge to go and collect it, carry it to Jerusalem and see that it was deposited there to meet needs.

  1. Titus – he volunteered, because of his close affiliation to the Corinthians; rd v 18;
  2. The Evangelist – εὐαγγέλιον; it seems that most early Acts 20.4 –
    1. (1)Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians,
    2. (2)Aristarchus and
    3. (3) Secundus; and
    4. (4)Gaius of Derbe, Derbe in Pamphilia? No. Acts 19.29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. Plus, the Western text has commentary notes that inform the read that Gaius was from the town of Doberus. I suppose a variant or some form of Derbe. Another location with the same town name. Example Antioch.
    5. (5)Timothy; and But Paul probably would have mentioned him by name.
    6. the Asians, (6)Tychicus and
    7. (7)Trophimus. These went on ahead and were waiting for
    8. (8)*us (Luke) at Troas;
    9. (9)Sosthenes; Acts 18.17: Riot at Corinth; also writer of 1 Corinthians – so these guys know him! But again, he’s a Macedonian.

So, who was it? Dunno! What we do know: 9.4 – They were not Macedonians. If any were to accompany Paul and these guys, then there is a possibility that they might be embarrassed at the poor showing. So, if you list all of these men and do away with the Macedonians you’re left with:

  • Tychicus, Trophimus and Luke. The interesting part of this is that the early church fathers said this was Luke. There are some great “proofs” presented by them. He wrote the 3rd Gospel – something he could be recognized for in v. 18; rd v 18; lit.: famous in the Gospel. So, answer we don’t know. Barnabas? Apollos; there is a 3rd person appointed to this task. I call him…
  1. Earnest – rd v 22;

app.: So we have three men – apostles, their called in v. 23 (messengers in the ESV)

t.s.: these three men are the ones who carry this letter to the Corinthians; Now let’s look at their task.

2.     Their Accountability: the three brothers accept responsibility for the collection (19b-22)

exp.: rd v 19a;

  1. Their Appointment by the Churches (19a)
  2. Their Administration as the Collectors (19b-20); ministered, same word as deacon; our deacons, whom you select and we, elders appoint to the task of counting the offering; rd v 21
  3. Their Aim in Finishing the Task (21) has two aspects to it:
    1. Their Honor before God and Man;
    2. God’s glory (v19b) for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.

There is a 4th part to this accountability: they were appointed to it, their responsibility to administer it, and their honor before God and man – 4thly, their proven record has given the churches confidence to give them this great responsibility; rd v 22;

  1. Their Proven Record: They’ve been Tried, Tested and found True (22); rd v 23;

app.: So, there you have it: 3 Apostles, commissioned with this great responsibility – appointed to administer this gift, this offering, with the Aim of Honor before God and men. They have proven themselves worthy of finishing this task.

t.s.: So, Paul gives another appeal to the Corinthians;

3.     Paul’s Continued Appeal for the Collection (24-9.5)

exp.: rd v 24; prove your love with action! It seems the Corinthians talked a good game in the beginning, but somehow, over the course of time, they had taken their eyes off of the goal. Things had changed. They got lazy and stopped working on this. Other tasks entered into the picture. Maybe funds were needed elsewhere.

t.s.: You might be asking: This is all fine and good, Bro. Fred, but how does this affect us? That was good for them – and Paul needed to get on to them. How does this apply to me personally and to Calvary in general?

Application: I’m so glad you asked:

In August of 2011 – I heard about a challenge being issued by our State Convention’s president to embrace a UUPG – an Unreached, Unengaged people group. In September, I believe it was, Jason Moore and I went to an Embrace conference. Later in the Fall, I believe at the Convention, based on the reception I’d received from you guys, I signed a commitment card to lead my church to embrace a UUPG. We started praying – specifically for three different areas. Within 3 months, we felt a release to drop one. Then we prayed for two areas. It took a lot longer, but we eventually dropped one and began to focus on one area alone.

A little research revealed 3 UUPG’s in our area of focus. We researched and prayed about these three groups and pretty much unanimously felt God’s leading to one specific group. This group had been rejected. Former slaves, they were now the lowest people on the rung of the ladder of life. I can only remember only one person recommending another people group other than the one we chose. And that wasn’t even a recommendation, just a passing: did you consider these people?

On July 20th, 2013, almost two years after the journey began, I wrote the following letter to our president:
Dr. Richards, It has been nearly 2 years ago that I saw your picture in an article and the story related to that photo. You committed 1,000 SBTC churches to embrace a UUPG. I picked up the phone and called your office to ask about it. I spoke to a lady whose name I don’t remember, but she told me the jest of what that meant and that I’d be learning more and more about it in the months to come. Well, I visited with my leaders and challenged my church to become one of the 1st churches to embrace a UUPG. It scared them, but accepted the challenge. It was a few months later that I filled out a card and made that commitment public at a SBTC event. I wanted you to know that we’ve prayed long and hard about our UUPG. Through a long process, God narrowed our search down to a specific group. We purchased our tickets to go on our vision trip this past week. In October, we’ll journey to this place to walk amidst the people we’ve been praying for. I’m so excited and thrilled as a pastor to be leading our people to do this. Instead of sending my folks each year to different places, we’ll now be focused upon one people. It’s been a long two years, but a wonderful journey that is just beginning. Thank you for your leadership and for what you do to lead us on to God’s agenda. We’ve been blessed by your faithfulness.

Fred Smith, Calvary, Tyler

It’s been 16 months since we’ve gone on that vision trip. We came back and challenged the church with the following Recommendations:

  1. Return to our UUPG with Smaller groups… 3 x 3 or 2 x 3 – 6 people was too much. (we’ve not done that.)
  2. Return in March 1-18, 2014 during their festival time. There will be some indigenous peoples there who can be our translators. (We didn’t do that)
  3. Put Boots on the Ground. We need a couple or a family on the ground coordinating efforts for us. An FOB – Forward Operating Base, Base Camp if you will. These people can do reconnaissance missions and enhance the effort for us. (we haven’t done this)
  4. Form a CBC Mission Team to specifically focus on this mission. (we kind of did this, we formed a team to do this and focus on missions, ministry and evangelism here) We only have so many workers in our small church.
  5. Begin Praying about filling a need – a reason to be there. 4 aspects of this need
    1. Simple: When traveling so far and costing so much, we need the task to be simplified
    2. Sustainable: by the boots on the ground and through short term trips
    3. Low Tech: These people live at 11,000 feet. We have to carry everything up single file trails to get to their villages. Whatever we do must be low tech. In other words, you’re not getting the Carter Blood Mobile up there!
    4. Inexpensive to implement/maintain: with costs already extreme, we must choose something that is low cost and easy to implement and maintain. Like, it must be able to be hiked in. If we ask Dr. Latta to go and do dentistry work, we’re not going to have electricity or dental chairs. And we’re sure not hiking them in!

Review each one: We’ve really not been able to accomplish these. We’ve missed some opportunities and have just had difficulty in others.

Well, Calvary, It’s time! The Mission Team has given a set of recommendations to the elders. The elder’s have made some small adjustments and are just about ready to present it all to you. Are you ready? ?

I feel a bit like Paul. I’m concerned. I wonder if your heart isn’t fully engaged in this. I have this picture on my computer to remind me of a particular moment on our trip. Show pic. This woman, we didn’t even get to meet her. She stayed away from us until we had gone by. Look at that smile.

Without Christ this young lady and her family are doomed to a life of ancestor worship, idol worship. Buddhism, Hinduism and the like. She faces a Christless life and to die a Christless death. No hope.

Now that we’ve finally arrived at this place to give and go, I wonder if you’ve become like the Corinthians. A lot of time has passed. Have you forgotten?

Here is what I need from you:

  1. More intentional focused prayer. Committing daily to pray for this effort. Some have. I have, but I wonder about us all. We all need to be praying. Satan wants to stop us – to make us fail. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful in it’s working. Pray.
  2. Set money aside.
    1. For our missionaries. We will present someone to you soon. It will take $30,000-$40,000 more dollars. Instead of a one year trip, we’d like to make it a two year commitment. Will you sacrifice to make this happen?
      1. Cancel Cable for a year? Dish? Lower your subscription.
      2. Tell your parents to cancel you cell phone, your internet?
    2. Not eat out after church on Sunday? Or at all?
    3. Instead of that ski trip or Disney trip, or hunting trip – do something closer to home? Instead of flying, take a bus? Or drive? Instead of a hotel, camp out.
    4. Maybe someone is feeling a call to sell something personal – a toy, a plaything and donate that money. I don’t know – you follow God on that.
    5. Will you sacrifice to make this happen?
  3. To go.
    1. Seriously pray about going. There are so many ways to encourage our missionaries, to see the work 1st hand. I’m telling you, it will change your perspective on missions.
    2. It’ll cost you money, time, energy, you’ll have to get into shape, lose a few pounds. Learn some of the basic words of their language.
    3. If you go, you won’t be able to engage these people for three days, because that’s how long it’ll take you to get there. You might get sick, diarrhea, sleepless nights, fire crackers going off in the night, you could be arrested and spend some time in jail before being deported. Will you consider going?
    4. If you go, remember these people are unreached and unengaged for a reason? The government doesn’t want you there. The trip to get there is three days. I’ve thought through this and don’t see how you can start ministry before the 3rd day. Even if you went straight there, you’ll have to get some sleep.
  4. Make a Public Commitment

I think some folks have decided in their hearts that this is just too hard. Let’s look for mission trips closer, let’s look for mission trips that are cheaper. You have some decisions to make.

  • Annie Armstrong
  • Lottie Moon
  • Faith comes by Hearing
  • The Cook’s are going to Montenegro
  • There will be Youth Missions; Family Missions; Pleas to purchase Bibles, etc.

With all of these missions to emphasize, which will you choose? Your resources are limited. And if you divide your recourses amongst them all, which ones will suffer and get less? It’s tough. What will you do? Here’s my fear: rd 9.1-5; I bragged about your readiness, I’ve told the state leadership about your readiness. We’ve been written up in magazine articles, we’ve been focused on at conventions and conferences, The state has asked to have next years mission Conference at Calvary because you have displayed your great passion for Mission and Ministry. And now, I do have complete confidence you, but I have a little fear. I, what did he say, Otherwise, if some Baptists come with me and find that you are not ready… we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident.

You have accepted the challenge; the time is upon us.

I need you to sit down with your family and your finances and make a decision about how to support the missionaries we’re going to send. We’ll need a monthly commitment, above and beyond the tithe. Next week, you will be given a challenge and I want you to be ready. I’m going to ask you to make a public commitment.

KR grew up in a pastor’s home. She said that they didn’t really have a lot of money. It came time to give an offering – above and beyond the tithe – for missions. The kids voted to give up Ketchup. For an entire year. Every time they ate and Ketchup was usually used – they didn’t have any. They remembered to pray for their missionaries. Ketchup for a poor family. What would that equal today – for a little kid? What would the equivalent be for you?

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