On Mission, part 10

On Mission, part 10

Luke 10: 23-24 “Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

The final lesson in this context from Jesus to the 72 followers who have returned from a short-term mission trip:

YOU ARE BLESSED

Today is the funeral of Joan Shaw who went to heaven 2 weeks ago. She was a key figure of the Church I was privileged to Pastor for 17 years. Of the many people she has met in heaven already will be the ‘prophets and kings’ who longed to see the Messiah but who did not show in their generation. Prior to Christ’s appearance on earth many lived their life with faith and hope that the Messiah would come but it was never planned for their generation. They are the ‘cloud of witnesses’ in Hebrews 12 who paved the way for Jesus to come.

Jesus tells his disciples quietly that they are blessed:

  1. Because they have seen Him. Their eyes had been opened and they agreed with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.”
  2. Because they would be seeing and understanding the reason for His coming.
  3. Because they saw the fulfilment of the Old Testament in Christ.
  4. Because they realised that Christ was here to build his Church.

Today I conduct another funeral of people I have known who have gone from this earth to heaven.

One thing they all will realise is how blessed they were indeed on earth to have:

  • Their relationship with Jesus
  • Understanding the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Their Bible pointing them to Jesus.
  • The Church that worshipped and lived for Jesus.

We are right now indeed blessed.

 

On Mission, part 9

On Mission, part 9

Luke 10: 22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Further Missions lessons from Jesus as the 72 have arrived back:

JESUS HAS IT ALL.

All things. In one of the most forthright things Jesus ever said alongside the sayings of ‘I am’ he is making the point that he was not self-appointed. He is the real deal, there is no other. God sent him. He was given all things. But this does not mean there was a time when he didn’t have all things. He is not a secondary being. There was never a time when God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit were not eternally there.

All people will bow their knee to Jesus. No matter how many self-declarations of importance there are through the many media platforms; no matter how many put-downs you have received from arrogant leaders and managers; no matter how much power and wealth are lorded over the weak and marginalised; they don’t have it all.

JESUS KNOWS IT ALL.

“No one knows.” Jesus says it twice.

The ultimate knowledge of the throne of heaven. How the triune God exists and works, no one knows that. Except Jesus. In the world of ‘know it all’s’ where everyone seems to have the perfect truth about everything; where one church vies against another for absolute truth; where people have totally correct political views; where people have insights never seen before; where experts in many fields have actually developed things way beyond our imagination; they will never know it all.

The created will never understand the Creator. In the missional context of needing to be incarnational, we will never understand how the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and Jesus was conceived. In our pursuit for His Presence in our lives we will never know what it was for the human and the divine to exist in one body. We don’t know it all.

JESUS REVEALS IT ALL.

Not Mohammed, Buddha, Zeus, Shiva etc. Only Jesus reveals God. Only in Jesus. Not many roads. One road. Jesus. Today there are many things you don’t have, you will never have everything even if you had more things. There will be many things you don’t know. You will have more questions than answers. But friends today we can say this one thing, “I know God. The Son has revealed the Father to me and is continuing to do so as I follow Him.” Today as we pray, we do so in the name of Jesus and he takes us to the throne of God. As we worship Jesus we connect with God. It is all through Jesus.

On Mission, part 8

On Mission, part 8

 

Luke 10: 17 – 21 “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”

 

Can you imagine the reunion of the short-term missionaries? Everyone was filled with stories of what they had seen and what they had done. Great joy. Laughter. Exuberance and noise filled base camp.

Jesus joins in that joy. He is laughing and rejoicing, beaming at his disciples.

No one fully knows whether Jesus had a vision whilst the disciples were out on mission of Satan falling like lightning, his empire collapsing under the work of his team or whether Jesus was referring to the fall of Satan from heaven. But whatever it was, I read it imagining Jesus smiling!

I am not sure how many times you have imagined Jesus being happy with you, but I think that may be way more times than we actually appreciate and acknowledge.

Snakes and scorpions were well known in that desert-parched land. They were hazards on everyone’s journey. But since the beginning of Bible history are seen as symbols of demonic power. Jesus reaffirms the authority and power he has given them and creates the imagery of his disciples trampling on every snake and scorpion they can find, like some children’s activity, little ones dancing on the head of the enemy. Wonderful!

Jesus is so happy. As he stares at his disciples mingling with one another, giving one another high five’s and sharing stories, he is thankful. He is praising his Father that these are just ordinary people, children, they are not special in the world’s eyes and they represent the generations of unknown people to come who have done great things in his name, people like you and me.

So what is the lesson?

LEARN TO CELEBRATE MORE. Rejoice in what has happened. Be happy with what you do for Jesus in this life. Laugh loud. Testify the good that you do.

LEARN TO CELEBRATE YOUR SALVATION. You are not only known on earth. You are known in heaven. Let the joy of your salvation overwhelm you. The power of His relationship with you is more powerful than the power He has given you over Satan.

LEARN TO CELEBRATE AS CHILDREN DO. Dance more. All that you have achieved has come about because you received as a child would do. You didn’t approach it with all the intelligence you could muster, you said, ‘pick me, choose me, I want to be on your team’.

 

On Mission, part 7

On Mission, part 7

Continuing to give his lessons of mission to the 72 short term missionaries, I think this is probably the most important.

Luke 10: 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

CHRIST IN YOU

The apostle Paul would understand this and asked the Church, “Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Christ is in you Amen!

“He who listens to you listens to me”. So we can’t become proud. Not really. It is Jesus who is speaking through us.

“He who rejects you rejects me”. So we can’t feel a failure. Not really. It is Jesus who is being rejected.

And now for the incredible thing. As you share the gospel if they accept what you say then they accept God, if they don’t, they reject God. The severity of their decision to accept or reject is huge in that there isn’t anywhere else they can go other than God. How is it possible that your words hold such eternal consequence? Christ in you!

  • In case you still may not have realised the brilliance of this lesson of Jesus then try this:

Whoever listens to (now insert your name) listens to Jesus; whoever rejects (insert your name) rejects me.

This is more than you being an agent of Jesus or his representative, “Jesus couldn’t come today so he has sent me”. It is so much more than that. When you speak, Jesus speaks. When they listen to you, they listen to Jesus.

(Galatians 2:20) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

(Colossians 1:27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

  • In case you still may not have realised the brilliance of this lesson of Jesus then think on this:

Your responsibility to choose words to use.

(Proverbs 16:24) Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Choose your words carefully today. Slow your mouth down. Don’t type so fast on your social media feeds. What will flow from you today? Angst? Pessimism? Hate? When they listen, they listen to Jesus! Now that is a huge responsibility!

Christ in you!

On Mission, part 6

On Mission, part 6

Luke 10: 13-15

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.”

Another lesson: Demand a response from the investment you give.

A quick look at these cities/towns:

Chorazin – There are no recorded miracles in the Gospels here.

Bethsaida – The man born blind was healed and Jesus fed the 5,000 just outside this city.

Tyre and Sidon – well known cities in the Old and New Testament, now known as Lebanon, pagan, famous for being rejecters of God.

Capernaum – Peter’s mother in law is healed and a man is set free from a demon amongst many other healings and miracles.

Jesus mentions Bethsaida and Capernaum where the Gospel writers record his miracles, Chorazin where nothing is recorded and Tyre and Sidon who everyone knew were doomed historically.

Have you ever wondered at people who encounter a healing, maybe even their own healing, they attribute it to God, but they never surrender their lives to Him?

If Christ has done a work in you or in front of you then the mission lesson is this: what are you going to do now after witnessing what He has done for you? If you do nothing then it is worse than doing nothing prior to witnessing what He has done.

Jesus Christ is not some nice magician floating around. If you reject Him, God, then where do you go? Who else can do anything for you? If witnessing God won’t turn you around in surrender then nothing will.

This is not a nice message. It is unpopular with parts of the Church who would never want to offend in anyway. But the truth is Christ expects a return on His investment and as we follow Him on mission so must we. If there is no response then we too may choose like the Gospel writers with Chorazin not to even mention the good that Christ did there, the city was completely forgotten.

Speaking up when you are not getting a return for your investment is a hard lesson perhaps. But Jesus demands our all and that is for all not just a few.

On Mission, part 5

On Mission, part 5

Luke 10: 8

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Further lessons from Jesus to those being sent out:

EXPECT THE SUPERNATURAL

Jesus didn’t tell them to go and pray for people to get well but to go and heal the sick. That’s not to say we shouldn’t pray for the sick, not at all, we should. But he gave them tremendous expectancy that they would do what he had been doing.

Let that settle for a moment.

In our Western culture if someone is sick we automatically think of a Pharmacy and medicines that are so freely available and we know that in the vast majority of cases if they take the medicine they will get better. We don’t think twice about it. It is almost a guarantee.

But what did Jesus say? Heal the sick. It was an instruction that sounded like a guarantee.

Those in parts of the world without Pharmacies need such guarantees, they certainly need the faith and expectancy of the Church.

He demonstrated this himself. Jesus healed the sick. He told the Twelve to do it. In Mark’s Great Commissioning Jesus instructs them that as well as driving out demons they will place their hands on sick people and they will get well.

Jesus shows us that God wants people well.

The Church needs to focus more on its healing ministry. The Church stands in every city, town and village as a symbol of healing for that community. Wherever you are placed the expectation is for you to reach others with healing, setting those bound, free and those broken, restored. The outcome is wholesome people. That’s what we need. A nation healed by God.

EXPECT DISAPPOINTMENT

This is not advocating not aiming for anything or failing before we begin.

But there are times where you’re going to be disappointed and you need to deal with it. We need to recover from hurt quickly.  Time is running out on you for all this, ‘oh I feel hurt’, you don’t have that luxury anymore, this is a life of mission. So if you get hurt easy sort it out, grow thicker skin and realise that that’s just life. We are on the mission of the One who was crucified so we should not be surprised when it isn’t easy for us either. You may not feel welcome, you may not feel appreciated, If you don’t deal with disappointment it will remove you from your appointment.

On Mission, part 4

On Mission, part 4

Luke 10: 5-7 ““When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”

Here are some lessons for his disciples when they entered into homes to stay:

BE A BLESSING

Imagine a world where the primary task of each of us was to be a blessing wherever we went. To bring peace not strife. Not to antagonise or be judgmental but just to bless. Not to criticise or try and get the upper hand but just to bless. Not to bring down or bring into line but to bless. Can you imagine that?

FIND THE PROMOTER OF PEACE

This verse has been the instrumental verse for the discipleship making movements around the world. One of my friend leads one of these movements in West Africa. He has seen planted 71 churches in his country which is an Islamic nation, he follows the model of going into a place where there is no church and finding a person of peace, a spiritual person who is not yet a Christian.

The promoter of peace is a person who is spiritual, open and happy to talk about what you believe in.  These are people who have got great influence, family influence and tribal influence. For example, the village chief or the mayor etc.

RECEIVE WELL DON’T BE PICKY

Eat what is set before you. I generally have 2 rules for myself; 1) it has to be dead and 2) it cannot be looking at me! So no fish heads or little chicks in their egg shells!

This is Incarnational mission. Some things are obvious. Like drinking only from bottled water. You have to take care of yourself on mission otherwise you won’t be doing any mission! But if you’re going on mission and all you say to your host is, ‘all I eat is an apple’, then that is hardly incarnational. If you go to India or Pakistan then you must eat curry!

Jesus said to his followers when you go into the Samaritan towns and villages you may not eat what you normally eat, but you will eat it. Further, don’t refuse for any reason, you deserve to be paid.

On Mission part 3

On Mission part 3

Jesus is giving 72 of his followers some fast-track Missions training prior to sending them out for a short term trip.

Here is the next lesson:

Luke 10 v 4 “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road”.

  1. Be totally dependent on God. God with what you are standing up in then rely on God providing for you.
  2. Be minimalist in desire. Don’t be weighed down with cumbersome possessions that you think you are going to need. This is not a holiday.
  3. Be urgent and expedient. Without being rude don’t get caught up with slow formalities of social etiquette. Some customs have very long greetings that can take many minutes just simply to bring a greeting.
  4. Be careful with your purpose. If on meeting everyone on the road towards your purpose you tell them and then they ask questions and make suggestions you may never arrive at your purpose. If you do arrive then those you have met may have infiltrated your purpose so much that it has become something completely different. Or they may have praised you so much that you desire the praise more than the purpose. But on top of this the greeting could lead to confrontation about their purpose especially since the disciples were being sent into Samaritan towns and villages.

On Mission, part 2

On Mission, part 2

Luke 10: 2-3 “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

 

It is PLENTIFUL

The aim of mission is that individuals come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. But that happens in a variety of ways through medical missions, education, reaching the poor, the orphans and the widows, social justice, helping business enterprise, evangelism and church planting. Even where you are right now without going overseas there would be a variety of ways to reach many people with the message of God’s love. The harvest is indeed plentiful. Let’s be creative. But also let us not be blinded to the many hidden and sub-cultures within people groups all over the world. The harvest is plentiful. It is not enough to say ‘God has called me to reach the Jews’. The Jews in the UK, Russia and in Israel may share the same history but they don’t share the same language and problems. Every nation will have a caste system of some kind, recognised or not, which cuts through language and ethnicity. I have a friend who is church planting in London. All his churches are Chinese. They all speak Chinese so I think. But one church I am translated in to speaks Mandarin and another Cantonese. They don’t understand one another. Even though I just think they are the same people. The harvest is plentiful. Then we can look at the unreached people groups defined by the fact that there is no movement within which can adequately reach the people without outside cross-cultural help. The hidden, lost people groups. Then there are the least evangelised people groups. 25% of the world population still have little or no access to the gospel. The harvest is plentiful.

 

The need to PRAY for WORKERS

A prayer movement began in England in 1782 led by the Nottingham Baptist Association. Every month churches would meet solely to pray for mission and expansion. It wasn’t long into those meetings that a man drew a map of the world and joined in the prayers, pouring out his own life in prayer for the lost. This man, William Carey, known as the father of modern missions rose into the work of reaching the lost from the place of prayer. We need such movements again. We are living in a new season where for over the last decade at least the Church has been reawakened to the call to pray for the people of the world. New ministries and movements of prayer are emerging. A fresh burden to pray for a release of workers is being seen right across the globe. This is not a movement in the UK to send workers to the four corners of the world. No, this is a world-wide desire and call to pray. Movements of prayer are taking place in Africa and Asia to raise up workers for the harvest. The world is poised for global mission like never before.

 

DANGEROUS MISSION

The most dangerous places to be a missionary is definitely within the following nations but it is also within the communities of the people groups from these nations and that may be across your street and within your town and city, whichever nation you are in:

North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen. There are many others of course.

Jesus describes mission as Lambs amongst Wolves. Suddenly the vocabulary changes the price.

There are missionaries today who are lambs among wolves. Yesterday someone from Saudi Arabia read my blog about Mission. I don’t know who they are. A secret believer? But Jesus knows them and loves them and is Immanuel, God with US for them today. Jesus-followers in these places are lambs trying to dodge the attacks, praying God protect me today, get me through today, don’t let me fail you, don’t let me back down, turn back, deny you, I will have succeeded today if  I’ve not denied you. Can you imagine that prayer? If you’re praying that prayer every day of your life? Can you just put that into your thinking?

It’s really important to realise that being part of the mission of God involves this.

If you as a Christian do have a difficult time because of your faith in Jesus and perhaps you do get some form of persecution then under that kind of attack remind yourself that there are people in your family of God where leaving is not an option, one day you’ll stand with them in heaven an they’ll say to you. ‘It was tough down there wasn’t it? It was tough’. And they’ll ask you a question, ‘How was it for you?’ I want to be able to respond and say ‘well, I don’t understand why I didn’t have the same persecution, but like you I never backed down when it got tough’.

On Mission, part 1

On Mission, part 1

Luke 10:1 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”

Last night I listened to a testimony of a lady well into her 80’s who has served God as a missionary for over 50 years in Mulita, in the DRC. Her name is Maud Kells. Her passion and love for Jesus and the people of the DRC was inspirational. Mission is her life for sure. It has consumed her.

This morning I wake to this first verse of chapter 10 in Luke. It is an exciting chapter as Jesus sends out 72 disciples on a short term mission that will most probably lead for the majority a life time of service in mission to God. They didn’t go overseas, being a missionary is to go where HE sends you and that may well be locally. (The further you go then everything just becomes magnified especially the sacrifice). But they went. I love reading about missions, biographies of missionaries, past and present, cross-cultural understanding, nations and extreme tribes, the unreached people groups etc. However, I am totally ruined by what I see of the sending God in the Bible. It seems He is on every page! And as I read this wonderful verse my mind is filled with these thoughts:

COST

‘After this …’ We already know that Jesus has just spoken about the cost of following him and that no one who puts his hand to the plough and then gives up  is fit for the kingdom of God.  Being a missionary will cost you. When you buy something it costs you, but actually it doesn’t because you’re getting something and so when you sit down and you watch your television you’re not thinking ‘oh this costs me’, no you’re just enjoying your television. On mission its 100% continual cost. And you may not realise the benefits that’s going to come to you but the benefit that perhaps some will look for is not the benefit you’ll get. It will cost you financially, your time, it will ruin your life, it will change the course of your life, you’ll never be the same again, and you will become a pain to those people who don’t understand missions. There’s only a very small minority that ever come back and say do not ever put me in a mission context ever again. The majority say ‘I’ve just got to go again; I’ve just got to be there again’. They’ve caught something. They are willing to pay the cost.

APPOINTED

The Lord appointed. He’s chosen you. You know it doesn’t matter where you go, he’s chosen you. He’s chosen you to himself. Some are chosen for a people group or a nation and out roots down, learning the language, becoming established in that people group, others move all over the world. But I believe what is so important to realise is that 100% of the time that God calls us to himself. He appoints us to walk with Him and we work out of that Presence, we go into missions out of His heart for the world, we go because we have understood His mind for missions, which is to go into all the world. Can you imagine what it must have been like for those 72 people? Jesus came up to them and say ‘it’s you, it’s you. I’m choosing you’. There were hundreds of people he could have chosen, ‘I’ve chosen you’. What were these 72 thinking? Maybe they were thinking how we think now when we feel God has appointed us. “You don’t know me, you don’t know about what I’ve done, you don’t know about how insecure I am, you don’t know that I can’t really speak, you don’t know how nervous I get.” But that’s of course not true! He knows everything there is to know. He knows what you’ve done and He knows who you are and He knows your incapability and He knows what you cannot do and He says,’ You’ll do. You are perfect. I can use you. I’m choosing you’, incredible isn’t it?

WITH ANOTHER

He told them to go two by two. Can you imagine if they tried to swap who they had been put with?! Now of course many today go out on mission alone but the point is that once they arrive they do all they can to build or join a team. Even those in the unreached groups focus on finding the person of peace so that they can move ahead in mission.  Can you imagine if one of the 72 said, “can I go on my own, I don’t like these people?’ Mission is people and actually if you don’t like people there is a problem. Mission is about that, you’ve got to be a people person, you have to love others. Whether or not you are an introvert or an extrovert, it matters not, you must love people enough to desire to engage with them.

SENT

Being sent means you are under orders and we serve better under accountability of the one who sent us.  There are a lot of lone-rangers out there, it seems like everybody wants to do their own thing because they believe that God has spoken to them to do their own thing. If it comes out of the attitude of ‘I just want to be in charge’ then it is the wrong attitude. Sent is not being dismissed nor is it some falling out of Church. Sent is mission with orders that have to be accounted for.

AHEAD OF HIM

Jesus said where he was about to go, you see it’s HIS mission. It is not our mission or whatever name we are connected with who supports us. It is HIS.  He’s been on mission for a redeemed people of God from creation and he’s still doing it. There are amazing stories of people finding Christ. Muslims, Hindus, animists are finding Christ on just sheer revelation of Jesus appearing to them. God is doing this and he doesn’t need us because if he’s doing it he could just do more of it but he invites us to join him because it’s fun. What a lovely way to spend our time in earth, being part of the mission of God. Isn’t it wonderful? Maybe today, wherever you are in the world, it is an invitation you have already responded to. Something happened in your heart, a desire, a connection a while ago or maybe just recently but you just said to the Lord, “I want to join you on this”.  It’s going to be very difficult for you to leave this path of mission. That’s why I use the words ‘I’m ruined’. My story is that when I became a pastor in 1992 I had no interest for missions work. I remember taking my church youth leaders to Manchester airport as they went off on mission to Zambia. It was 1993 and they still remind me today as I said to them on that car journey, “you’ll never ever see me in Africa”. I had no desire.  Then in the year 2000 my friend invited me to join him going overseas on a short mission. Guess where I went? It was Zambia!  I came back totally changed. It’s amazing how God uses people to change you, especially in a different culture. I went and I didn’t realise at the time I was on HIS mission. But when you join him in HIS mission it actually becomes as much about transformation of your life as it does about other people’s lives. It’s his mission.