The Great Mission
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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode 97 · 6 months ago

The Great Mission

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The church is a movement on a mission. While God does call some disciples to go somewhere else to "make disciples," making disciples is the call of every Christ follower no matter where they go. Message from Denny Foreman.

Well, good morning everybody, and brother John. Yes, I can believe it's almost June because I'm a teacher and we have our commencement this Friday, so I am off for the summer. Yes, good morning everybody. Those of you that are watching online, it's good to have you here with us this morning and, of course, to all of you that are here this morning, I'm so glad that you're here with us. It's good seeing each one of you. Had you been a church goer in the early S, it would have been common to see a map similar to this one on the wall, because many American churches had a similar map on their wall, sometimes directly behind the pulpit, and they were marked either with little pins showing where there were missionary families representing that Church and, more specifically, the Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe they had little tiny pin lights instead of the pins. It would not have been uncommon for a local congregation to host an annual missions conference with my visiting missionary families home on leave and sharing the stories about exotic locales and talking about eating uncommon foods that American diets would not deal with, like Fried Tarantula's or fertilized leg eggs. I'm not making those up. Were certain a soloist would have ended a missionary conference with a hymn. So send I you. It was written in one thousand nine hundred and fifteen, called the greatest missionary hymn ever written. Was Written by a missionary herself. Her name was Margaret Clarkson. She was a school teacher who ministered to Canadian gold mining camps in Ontario. And the lyrics begin like this. I'm not going to sing it, so I know, I know. So send I you to Labor unrewarded, to serve, unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown, to bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing. So send I you to toil for me alone. And that was just the first of five very, very somber versus calling men and women to go and make disciples. You see, throughout the first half of the twenty century the Foreign Missionary Movement in America was in full bloom. Anyone growing up in mid twenty century America and frankly, around the world, would have remembered the headlines on January eighth, one thousand nine hundred and fifty six. That read twenty eight year old American missionary to the ALCA tribes in Ecuador, Jim Elliott was martyred along with Nate Saint,...

Peter Fleming, ed mcculley and Roger Eudarian. Their martyrdom at the hands of those they had gone to witness two made headlines for weeks and months and produced best selling books, several documentary movies and served as a call to young men and women to go make disciples. Jim Elliott wrote a journal while he was a student at Wheaton College in Chicago and it would have been found of many young pastoral students bookshelves, including my own, and it had this highlighted in read. Jim said he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Now, when I was assigned this morning's passage from Matthew Twenty eight, I was, to put it bluntly, more than a little nervous. I was largely scared because of the capital letter M I S S I o n a R Y, those missionary memories that I recalled from earlier years. Now, before you get the feeling, are the idea that foreman here is being a bit cavalier about mission work. I want to tell you a little bit about my family. I have a great uncle. His name was Ivan Kaufman. Mr Kaufman and his daughter are buried in China where they were serving as missionaries just prior to the revolution. I could tell you about distant cousins who formed Asian outreach a mission to the Pacific Rim. I could tell you about my second cousin who founded and still leads kings kids international, reaching children for Jesus around the world. And some of you know about my youngest sister, Becky, who has been with youth with a mission ever since she graduated from high school. But that's about my relatives. What about me? What might God be trying to tell me, trying to be telling us from our scriptural passage for this morning? And how does an extremely wellknown portion of the Bible tie in with our theme, the you shaped whole? If you have your bibles with you this morning. If you don't have a Bible, by the way, we would love to give you one. As you're leaving this morning, stopped by the new here table in the...

...lobby. We'd love to give you a Bible. But while we're reading the Bible, we're going to have it projected here on the screen behind me. It's found in Matthew Twenty eight and we're going to be reading the closing verses. It's a familiar passage, frequently referred to as the Great Commission, but I'm starting a little bit earlier. I'm starting at Verse Sixteen. Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some of them doubted. Jesus came and told his disciples I had been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth, and you all know this. Say along with me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you, and be sure of this, I am with you alls, even to the end of the age. Matthew Twenty Eight, Hundred Sixteen to twenty. Let's pray. Father God, I thank you so much for loving us, thank you for calling us to follow you, thank you for redeeming us, for purchasing us for yourself. Lord Jesus, I pray, as we consider these words this morning, that you would teach us, that you would open our hearts to what you have for us, and I asked this in Jesus name. Amen. During the past few weeks we have been discussing this theme, the you shaped whole Pastor Kevin, who I hope you're watching of this morning. Actually, he's at a church service in Georgia, so well, we'll let him off out here. He started our series by talking about the individuals role in the church and then he continued by giving us a brief history of how the Church was founded and where it led and what makes up a local church like us. Last week, Pastor Tony was here and he took us further afield and discussed how we as individuals and how we as a local church are part of this bigger picture, much bigger picture, the Universal Church or, as it's sometimes referred to, the bride of Christ. Now, let's be honest, Matthew. Twenty eight closing verses are almost always used to spur us on as missionaries, foreign missionaries, but this morning I want us to make a loop back...

...to where Kevin started this series off a few weeks back, and I want us to focus on the you in the u shaped whole. Why? Because, I'm afraid, for many of us, myself included, the term missionary is equated with a special, unique occupation, a job or a career for somebody else. That being the case, while most sermons based on this passage begin with verse nineteen, go and make disciples, I really want to call your attention to those preceding verses sixteen through eighteen. I want you to go back in your mind what you remember from the Gospels about that First Easter Sunday morning. As various people came to the tomb, they were given some instructions, and the instruction was pretty simple. It was this, go meet Jesus in Galilee, follow him one more time to Galilee. Now, sitting here, two thousand years removed from the events that we read about in the Gospels, I don't think any of us can fully fathom the emotional roller coaster. That's easy loven disciples had been experiencing. They had walked with Jesus for approximately three years. Now. Think about this, think about the excitement they experienced as they marched into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, as Jesus is hailed as king. Then imagine the solemnity of the final soft supper and the questions, the bafflement that went through their mind as Jesus, their leader, kneeled and washed their feet, and the questions that had to be going through their mind as a referred to his body as being bred and his blood the wine. And then all of that followed almost immediately by the chaos of Jesus arrest and their own personal fears as they escaped and then hiding from the arresting officers and the Church of fish the temple officials. Consider the dismay when they learned that one of their closest friends had betrayed Jesus and one of their leaders, Peter,...

...had even denied Jesus. And then the horrible, gruesome death and then the impossible arisen Jesus. Can we say emotional overload? Their emotions had to be off the chart. And now, following all of that, Jesus calls this group to follow him one more time, to meet with him in Galilee, Galilee where it all began for them, that same Galilee where Jesus called, Hey, get out of your boats Andrew James John Peter One, follow me. That same Galilee. It's see, it's tight little towns where this little band of followers watched and learned, where they were sent out to Minister in small groups, the Galilee where their story begins, and put into practice what they were learning from Jesus. It's my love that Matthew includes this very personal observation. When they saw him, they worship him, but some of them doubted, doubted what I mean. Jesus is standing there right in front of them. What are they doubting? At this point we don't know. All that prompted their doubt. Like I said, there had to be all kinds of emotional things going on with all the events that had preceded this, this particular time, and I'm thinking that perhaps some of that doubt had more to do with now what? After all this? Now what? Okay. So, to those of you that are fellow believers, I'm going to embarrass you. So here we go. Quick show of hands. How many of you have ever seen our know that God has worked in your life specifically, let me see your hands all over the audience. Thank you, thank you. Thank you. How about that? You have known God to answer a prayer in your life? Anybody sure? Absolutely you know that God did such and such a life. Perhaps it was he opened a career path for you. Perhaps he brought a relationship into play and and that relation turned into your spouse. God working in all these wonderful ways in our lives and then we fail, we fall flat on our faces. Perhaps we give into temptation. You don't have to raise your hands on this one. Perhaps we give into temptation.

Maybe we lose a job or are perhaps we fall out of a relationship and suddenly we start to question, we have some doubts. So let's give these guys who have been through the all of this intense emotional stress a little bit of love this morning, because I can see why some of them have some doubts at going on their minds at this point. But from the get go, Jesus called individuals to himself. According to Luke, one thousand nine hundred and ten Jesus reminds us that the son of man came to seek out and save the lost. For those early disciples, that seeking, that calling, begins in Galilee. Turn with me to Matthew and eighteen. One day, as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, also called Peter and Andrew. Jesus called out to them. Come follow me and I will show you how to fish for men. I think for us to fully grasp the great commission's all go into the world, it's essential that we start at the beginning. Before we fish, we need to follow. For me it was a Littz Pike rout hundred and one alongside the road by the overlook golf course. Some of you have heard me say this before. Sure, I'd grown up in a church, I had Christian parents, I did the Sunday school and youth grouped thing, but it was that final night in October, final Sunday night to be exact, in October one thousand nine hundred and seventy four, that I knew I needed help. I knew I needed a savior. Jesus, you see, was knocking on my heart store and was inviting me to come in, inviting him to come into my life. What in where was your Galilee? Where was the first time that you sends Jesus knocking on your heart store? When did you know you needed a savior? I guess for those of you who like a tidy, nice three point sermon outline. I'm going to call what I just did an introduction. Part One. Jesus calls his followers, but I follows immediately with Jesus coaches those who follow him. We're called to Jesus...

...and we begin, through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, to begin to be more christlike. It's a process, folks. We don't have time this way. I could give you verse after verse after verse, but in your spare time this afternoon check out second Corinthians three hundred and eighteen. Are Our Romans to Romans period, and read about your lives being transformed, being made Christ like, being made like Jesus. As we're sitting here in our cushy seats at a real cinema. We are the beneficiaries of two thousand years plus years of church history. We've got bibles by the dozens. Good grief. If you have a phone, you have access to a Bible. Bible hub has at least thirty two different translations of the Bible available to you at a sweep of your finger. Go to any large book store and you'll find how to live the Christian life books by the hundreds. We have televised evangelists, seminars, podcasts, logs, hey gang, Peter, the boys, they had none of this, but they had Jesus and they called him rabbi, they believed him, they followed him. We usually translate rabbi as teacher. I want you to consider some things this morning. First of all, every Jewish boy in first century Galilee and before would have spent time studying holy scriptures with a rabbi, a teacher, probably from the little town that they were in, someone from their villages. However, an established, wellknown, trained rabbi would switch things around. They would seek out students, they would seek out prospective students and call them out follow me, in other words, be my disciple. Now, what exactly did follow me mean in that particular time period? I love what the Sydney daily tells us about following a rabbi. It, and I'm going to quote it, means that...

...these called out ones left everything all behind and literally imitated the rabbi in every way, including his teachings and mannerisms. And there's more. As these novice disciples would leave their homes to follow their new rabbi, their teacher, family and friends would gather and call a blessing over them as they left. And it's this, and I'm quoting, may you be covered with the dust of your rabbi, the implication being that the student should follow so closely to their teacher that the dust from the rabbi's footsteps would land on them. That, my friends, as we consider walking with Jesus, is powerful imagery. This was Jesus call to his disciples. Come be like me, come be covered by my grace, by My mercy, come to me, and this should be the desire of every one of us who followed Jesus, that we would be so near to him, be so like him, that the world, in viewing us, would in fact see Jesus reflected in our lives. When Jesus called his disciples in Galilee to become fisherman, he doesn't just say the words, he invites them into an intimate fellowship. He says follow me, learn from me, lean into me, become like me. And here is where I want to return to where we started our scripture this morning. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some of them doubted. We don't know what prompted the doubt, but I'm still thinking that, with Jesus standing talking to them. Their doubt is more kin into okay, now what now? What do we do? I'm going to emphasize some of these words found in Matthew. Two Thousand Hundred, sixteen to twenty, Jesus came and told his disciples, I have been given all authority and Heaven on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you, and be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

A passage so well known, and the emphasis is nearly always focused on the go, perhaps rightly so, but perhaps we fail to see that Jesus is calming those fears and those doubts, so much so that we fail to underscore that through Jesus, obedience to God, the father, Jesus, sacrificial atonement for humanity by dying on the cross, Jesus victory over death and the grave, Jesus, the author of our salvation, the one who is named Lord of Angel Armies. This same Jesus who called them to leave their former lives. This same Jesus has now commissioned his disciple, US, his followers, and if you are a believer, you too have been commissioned to make other new disciples as you consider your walk with Jesus. When was the last time you called yourself? Are described yourself as being a DISI. AIPLE. I mean, let's be honest, it's pretty easy to tell friends that we go to church. A lot of people do. If we're really feeling brave, we might even mumble out while, I'm a Christian, and if we're really feeling good, we might even say hey, I'm a believer, but claiming to be a disciple. We don't have time to look at all the scriptures that talk about discipleship, about following Jesus as a disciple, versus that state, if you want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me, or I'll teach you how to fish for men. Or John Fifteen sixteen, where Jesus says you didn't choose me, I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit. Anyone who serves me must follow me. So where did Jesus Disciples go? Well, they followed him to where people were hurting, where people were lonely, where people were outcast and in need. In some cases the disciples were led to foreign shores. We Know Peter and Paul found their way to Rome. We know that Thomas,...

...yes doubting Thomas, ended up in India. New Break Church writes this. For the early Christians, the teachings of Jesus were not just slogans to subscribe to, they were a constitution which compelled their very lifestyles. Jesus taught and modeled love your neighbor as yourself, for example, and early believers took that seriously. Their whole lifestyle was re oriented around self giving love. Now Glad you sitting down for this next bits piece of news, because I I literally couldn't believe this. Sociologists recognize that Christianity grew at a rate of approximately forty percent per decade. This is mind boggling. Sociologists estimate that in a D forty, eighty forty, there were about one thousand Christians. When you get to a d fifty, there were as many as thirty four million Christians in the known world. Take a moment and try and wrap your mind around those numbers. Millions of cu of converse and without printed bibles. Lives changed by modeling Jesus. Lives Change during several centuries of horrendous of abuse, Christians Martyred, put on crosses and set a fire to light the way to banquets in our home. For Twenty Years of my adult life I served as a youth pastor in a large church and one of the things that I look for on a regular basis was for mission trips for my kids. Many of my youth ministry friends still do this. They go to the inner city, they go to the Caribbean islands. When I first started, we wanted to take a missionary trip to a small church and minister to the local church in a little town in New Hampshire and I have to be honest, we went because it was January and everybody wanted to go to the skiing area that was nearby. Okay, so that's a little bit snarky. Seriously, the these trips...

...were well intentioned and some good things happen, some great things happen. My point this morning, and telling you that, is that while many of us here the call to go, we may miss the intimacy of that personal relationship, that personal discipleship. Many of you know that I currently work at an international boarding school and we draw students from thirty seven different countries, and I've often thought while this particular youth group is raising thousands of dollars to send their youth group to Ireland, so they know that they have thirty kids from thirty seven different countries here in their own backyard that they could invite to youth gathering, we often miss the ministry opportunities that are in our own back yard. Now, not overlooking the fact that acts thirteen, two to three shows the early church laying hands on and blessing and sending out Paul and Barnabas to literally go far and wide. Absolutely, Yes, yes, yes, God still calls and establish men, women, boys and girls to global missions. Bless them, pray for them, support them financially, but then remember that you have been given a Galilee of your own in your own backyard. When I started work on this morning's message, I truly thought it would be totally about foreign missions. To be honest, I think I wanted it to be Matthew. Twenty eight go into all the world. All too often I read that verse and I signed that call to somebody else. If God is calling you to a foreign field, God bless you seriously. May He multiply your ministry. However, if you are one who has put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, if you are a disciple of Jesus, you, my friend, my brother, my sister, you have been commissioned, along with our brothers and sisters serving on foreign fields around the world. As believers, we have all been sent. You are an integral part of the whole. Now...

...us, there are individuals who are given this unique opportunity to go far and wide spreading God's word, spreading the good news that Jesus saves. But all of us have mission fields in our lives. Family members, friends at school and work, the next door neighbors, fill in the blank. Here's the real deal, friends, as believers individually, we are called into this deeply intimate relationship with our savior. John Thirty six reads. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am, and the father will honor anyone who serves me. To simplify, the Great Commission found in Matthew Twenty Eight, based on first Peter Three Fifteen, which states worship Christ as Lord of your life and if someone asks about your hope as a believer, just be ready to explain it. Some trimes we just try and complicate things. Tell your story. That, friends, is exactly what the early Church did. They followed Jesus closely, they loved as he loved and they shared their story and the church grew dynamically. Big Daddy Weaves sings one of my favorite songs that I'm got a paraphrase some of the words to. That saw is called my story and it goes like this. If I told you my story, you would hear about hope that wouldn't let go. And if I told you my story, you would hear about love that never gave up on me. And if I told you my story, you wouldn't hear about life, but it wasn't mine. It's about Jesus. If I told you my story, you would be about victory over sin and the enemy. If I told you my story, you would hear about freedom that was one for me on the Cross. If I told you my story, you would hear about life overcoming the grave. And if I speak, let it be of the grace that's greater than all my sin. When justice was served where mercy winds. That, my friends, is my story, praisy, my savior. All the day long, we are called as disciples to follow Jesus, to make disciples, to train them, to train them to...

...make disciples, until the whole world knows that Jesus is Lord. As John and the worship team come forward, let me close with a blessing over you all from Hebrews Thirteen. Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead of our Lord, Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood, May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All Glory to him forever and ever. Amen. Come.

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