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Archive for the ‘The Great Commission’ Category

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
– Acts 13:1-3 (NKJV)

Our assignments come from the Almighty.  He can set us apart for the work that He alone calls us to do in His name and for His sake.  He can single us out and call us out “for the special work”  that He has for us to do (v. 2, New Living Translation).  Even when there are other teachers, preachers, evangelists and prophets in the vicinity, He can still call for us to be separated from everyone else.

Such a calling is a heavy responsibility.  It requires us to act on it once we have accepted it. 

Look at Paul and Barnabas.  Look at the work that they did immediately folowing being set apart for this assignment of “special work.” They took action with their assignment.  They had all of the confirmation that they needed to go.  They had gone through all of the preparations that you could imagine necessary, not possible.  Fasting, praying and the laying on of hands were all part of what took place prior to sending them out.

Imagine what you would do if and when the Lord calls you out.  Try to picture your response to the Lord picking you out for “special work.” Go on and respond with some action.

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Social networking is still the fastest-growing active social media behaviour online, increasing from 36% of global Internet users to 59% managing their profile on a monthly basis by the end of 2011…Facebook has 845 million active users –  http://thesocialskinny.com/100-more-social-media-statistics-for-2012/

Recently, the world’s largest social network made news when it released an initial public offering to become a publicly traded stock.  That’s not the big news.  The big news has more to do with the potential that lies within social networking as well as social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  That’s the big news for those who proclaim the Good News.

Use Facebook for your ministry.  Set up a profile.  Find friends online.  Share the profile link via email with your ministry members or congregants.  Add the link to your Facebook to your email signature or link the Facebook button to your website or blog.

Here are some simple strategies for Facebook usage for ministry:

  • Post upcoming events and invite ‘friends of friends’
  • Share inspirational verses and passages through status updates
  • Upload photos from events like mission trips or church outreach activities
  • Start Facebook groups for prayer, Bible study or salvation Q&A
  • Set up a fan page for members to get updated information on church or ministry activities

Facebook has a lot of potential.  Use it to your advantage to advance the gospel.  Spread the Good News throughout cyberspace by using Facebook as a steward of the Good News.

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And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14 (NIV)

The “gospel of the kingdom” is to preached.  It is to penetrate throughout “the whole world as a testimony to all nations.” There is no end of times until this is done

The gospel is to be proclaimed by those of us who believe it and know it as truth.  We cannot expect the world to carry its message forth.  The news media will not do it.  Certainly, we cannot expect the educational system or institutions of higher learning to spread the word about it.  No, we must proclaim it and penetrate the entire world with it, spreading around the seed that must be sown upon this earth.
We must go far and wide with the “gospel of the kingdom.” It cannot remain contained behind the stained glass of our sanctuaries.  It cannot simply rest in our hearts.  It must come forth through our active engagement of sharing it with others. 
Let us approach this task as our primary activity while alive on this earth.  We must approach it with faith and fervor, fueled by the Holy Spirit who sets us afire to speak boldly of His endless grace and eternal love.  Let this gospel go forth out of you for all that God has bestowed upon you as one of His own children.
“We may well be ashamed of our own personal imperfections, but we have no need to be ashamed of our doctrine.” – J.C. Ryle

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Read Plato’s Republic or Walden by Henry David Thoreau and you can get a worldly view on politics and its citizenry.  That may not go well with the Bible.  In fact, it may not match at all.  However, there are some key things that Christians can learn by observing the current political race for presidency.

  1. You have to announce that you are running in the race.  Christians should not act like they have the best-kept secret in town.  The gospel is translated as “good news.” You share good news.  You don’t keep it to yourself.  We have to announce it to the world that we are in the race.
  2. You have to make an effort to reach people one way or another.  The Obama Campaign of 2008 incorporated all sorts of means and mediums to involve every type of potential voter around the country.  We have to reach people with our message with the same fervor that candidates push their agendas and campaign slogans online and in print, even through the media and public appearances.
  3. You have to let people know where you stand on the issues that matter to them.  Politicians will constantly talk about taxes, public assistance programs, business development and employment, even education and health care.  They may step into controversial areas like birth control, abortion and same sex marriage, even illegal immigration.  We have to know what matters to people and share where we stand with people.  We lose any opportunity to win souls like we should when we fail to share what the Good Book says about this life and eternity.  Look at Luis Palau, James Dobson and Chuck Colson for examples of how to evangelize with hope and a firm standing on the issues of today.
  4. You have to keep your cool and your composure in the heat of the debate.  Political jousting is nothing new.  It is as old as politics itself.  However, as Christians, we have to be able to maintain our cool when our beliefs are attacked.  We cannot get on the defensive, taking it personal, and become arrogant or abusive with our attackers.  The Bible tells us that our spiritual warfare is not fought against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-18).  After all, even as Jesus hung on the cross, He did not call upon the armies of angels to rescue Him as He endured the fatal punishment of the storied execution style of the Romans and the cruel mistreatment of His own people.  We, too, must endure the attacks of slander and assumptions regarding our beliefs.
  5. You have to carry yourself as a winner.  No candidate enters the race with the hopes of being a loser.  No, political candidates go for broke with a winning attitude.  They are confident in their own abilities.  We do not have to get conceited or cocky.  We just have to go forward in faith, with full belief in the Lord’s ability to provide for us and protect us.  We have to take Paul’s words to heart, believing: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.
– Acts 1:8 (NIV)

Jesus shared that the Holy Spirit would come and empower His followers.  He pointed out that His disciples would serve as witnesses of Him all over, even “to the ends of the earth.”

He spoke of specific places where they would witness, but He also shared of how the message would transcend their locale “to the ends of the earth.” Their witness was so powerful that others caught on fire with the Good News and took hold of it.  They shared the gospel message and it spread throughout the world as God’s people were dispersed under persecution.

You should be a witness of God’s gospel of grace and forgiveness.  Let your testimony speak of God’s lovingkindess towards all men.  Let your witness spread throughout the world.  Speak of God’s goodness and grace by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Speak of it and spread it “to the ends of the earth.”

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“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman (Christian clergyman, author, and activist)

Analyze where the Christian church stands today.  Take an honest look at the standing of one of the most treasured institutions of society.  Make an earnest appraisal of the modern church.  See where the church stands today.

For far too long, in the eyes of many, the church has remained in isolation.  In the opinion of some, the church has appeared inactive, almost docile, dormant and dulled, if not deadened.  Others have said that the church has simply dwindled into a state of sheer ineffectiveness.

George Barna has studied and evaluated the church for years.  Henry Blackaby has shared some insights and findings as well.  John Maxwell has offered multiple volumes on Christian leadership.  Rick Warren weighed in with The Purpose Driven Church.  There is no shortage of Christian perspectives of what the church is not and where the church has fallen short.

Don’t disregard the Reformation or the Great Awakening.  Don’t toss aside the Progressives or the Abolitionists.  Do not forsake the social activism of Prohibition and the Salvation Army, YMCA, and YWCA.  Don’t forget how Christians fought Darwinism and the teaching of evolutionism in the U.S. school system.  Forget not Azusa Street and the likes of Oral Roberts or Billy Graham.  Do not frown upon the church’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war protests, and the pro-life debates.  Consider all of the church’s storied past.

Recall that the church has been called to be more than a building.  The church has a calling as the body of Christ.  Look at Luis Palau, Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship, and the countless missionaries and ministries that exist today.  See how many are fed, clothed, sheltered and ministered to through street ministries and storefronts alike.  See the church playing an active role in society.

Do not grapple with public opinion.  Do not spend hour upon hour debating with the church’s critics.  Stand proudly and boldly to be counted among the many who diligently serve the Lord by doing all that they can with what little they have for “the least of these.”



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 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

The Great Commission gives us the disciple-making formula.  We have been referencing it for years.  We have used it for our mantra in evangelizing the entire world, putting much of our focus on the going and baptizing with regards to all nations and unto the end of the world. 

What about the teaching part?

. . . and teach all nations. . .
. . . Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . .

Our discipleship process should make a difference.  It should make a difference in the people who are discipled by us.  It should make a difference in them as they become fishers of men.  It should make a difference in them to the point where they make a difference in the world around them.  We, as the body of Christ, are to develop difference makers.

Get ideas and insights on how to develop difference makers:
We need today’s Christian to be able to sort through the muck and the mire.  We need Christians who will know what is truth and what is false, calling out the false prophets and standing for the truth.  We need Christians who are not blinded by the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, MTV and other fantasies.  We need people who will stand upright as the world goes astray, working in this ministry of reconciliation.  We need Christians to serve as Christ’s army.
Read the likes of J.C. Ryle, Francis Chan, Oswald Chambers, Watchman Nee, William Wilberforce, and William Carey.  Try to get a hold of the works of Hudson Taylor, Richard Allen, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Al Sharpton.  Look into men like William Tyndale, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and John Bunyan.  Let the words of these men sink into your heart, mind and soul.  See how they made a difference.  See how others taught and trained them.  See how you can develop others to make a difference.

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“We have to take initiative where we are, not where we have not yet been.” – Oswald Chambers

Imagine helping everyone else except for those whom you love.  You offer strangers and others more than your own children and loved ones, even your closest friends.  That would sound sort of strange, right? That would make you seem like some sort of hypocrite.

You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. – Matthew 26:11 (NLT)

We need to stop overlooking the needs that go unaddressed right around us daily instead of seeking to go off to some distant land and do the same good that we never ever attempted at home.  We should go abroad and carry the Good News of Jesus Christ.  That is certainly the truth.  However, we do not need to leave needs unmet right at our own doorstep.

What was it that James said about true religion?

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27 (KJV)

We need to start right where we are.  We need to start doing good works right where we live every single day.  We need to do our part to keep things in order right where we live.  Our works should start with what we have done on our home turf.  Then, as we build up those around us by equipping and empowering them, we can branch out from there.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” – Acts 1:4 (NIV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8 (NIV)

Until the Lord directs you, don’t leave where you are today.  Get busy doing His work with His Word right there.  Stay on task.  Once He has developed you, He will direct you.  When He has readied you for branching out, He will tap you for further service.  He wants you working on His good works in His name.  Your best bet is to start where He has planted you.  He has put you here for a reason.

You may not be able to go to the ends of the world and do every good work, but you have somewhere to start.  You something to offer.  You can get started right here.  You can grow as you do good.  Let doing good works do you some good, too.  Let it be right where you are today.

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How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

– 1 Corinthians 14:26 (KJV)

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. – Romans 15:2 (NIV)

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, – Ephesians 5:19 (NIV)
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. – 2 Timothy 4:5 (KJV)
Our work is to dispense the Word into the world.  That sounds simple.  However, that is only the main thrust of what we are called to do as God’s people.  We have to have some tactics to go along with our teaching.  We need some methods to go along with our message.
 
Paul’s instructions to Timothy in one of his pastoral epistles states that Timothy should do the work of an evangelist as well as fulfill his ministry.  It didn’t mean that Timothy was to simply evangelize in any manner or method that he saw fit.  The directive exemplifies the teaching and training necessary for a newly-established pastor in maintaining his station as spiritual leader.  If no one else can lead someone to Christ in that local church, the pastor better be able to walk someone down the Romans Road to salvation as part of the work of an evangelist(my understanding of the Holy Spirit leaves doubting that He would leave any of His churches so barren and fruitless, though).  Additionally, he should be able to teach and train others in biblical methods in reaching others for Christ.
 
Encourage others along the way.  If you simply leave it at we all have sinned and fallen short or that the wages of sin is death, you just left someone dangling in suspense and plagued with wonder until worship service on Sunday.  That’s not evangelism.  It surely isn’t encouraging either.  That’s a scare tactic.  Some of our people have mastered such techniques.  Rather than seeking what the Lord has to offer, people are turning to Jesus as the way to avoid going to hell.  Some of our brothers and sisters are persuasive in literally scaring the hell out of some folks rather than sharing the unsearchable riches of Christ.
 
We need to spend some time encouraging folks in the Word.  We need to use methods and mannerisms that build up people rather than manipulating them into a twisted-arm decision about what to do to gain eternal life.  Jesus didn’t use that methodology.  That wasn’t how John the Baptist did his evangelistic work.  Paul surely did not force anyone to accept Christ in such a way.  There is a way to reach someone for Christ and encourage them by your words and other things.
 

  • Encourage with your words
  • Encourage through your works
  • Encourage by your ways

As I have shared before, people may need to see more Christ in you before they hear anything about Christ from you.  Live it out and let it be known.

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In 1967, our vision was to reach Los Angeles. This vision broadened to include California, then all of America, then the entire world.  – from The History of Victory Outreach International

As Christians, we are to be in a position of ambassadors of Christ to others.  We can be a bridge between people and the Savior.  We need to be messengers who share the message of the Good News about the victory that is complete in Christ.

Victory Outreach started with a novel concept.  They sought to reach the city of Los Angeles with the gospel.  That grew and expanded since 1967. 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:8 (ESV)

What if you simply set your focus on reaching a city or region for Christ, spreading the news about the victory that is available through Him? It is possible.  It is doable.  It provides us with a focal point for the work of the ministry.  We can do more for the Lord with a focus that can help us grow from there.  We can be voices of His victory on the street corners of metropolitans like Los Angeles or we can speak loudly about His victory in a rustic church out in a rural area.  Location matters as a starting point.  Location should not stifle us from doing the work of the ministry.

Where is your Jerusalem? What serves as your home base or headquarters? Start right there.

What is your Judea or Samaria? Identify surrounding areas near your locale to spread the news of Christ’s victory.  Use these as key points on your map of ministry.  These will serve as the points where you have identified the need for both the presence and preaching of gospel-believing people.

. . . and to the end of the earth

God will send you where He has for you to serve Him.  He may start you out in one place, but He may send you further and further away from “home.” He wants to use you.  He start you out right where you are and grow you right before the eyes of your family and friends.  He could also send you away to develop you far away from all that you have known.  He just wants you to serve as a voice of His victory and the victory that you have in this life through Him.

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