A CONGREGATION ON MISSION

A CONGREGATION WITH A MISSION

Date:              June 28, 1998          

Bible Verses: Acts 13:1-5

Key Verse:     Acts 13:3 "3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off."

Session Focus: To grow in our understanding of how to carry out God's mission for this world.

Mis·sion: 1 obsolete : the act or an instance of sending 2 a : a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work b : assignment to or work in a field of missionary enterprise c (1) : a mission establishment (2) : a local church or parish dependent on a larger religious organization for direction or financial support d plural : organized missionary work e : a course of sermons and services given to convert the unchurched or quicken Christian faith 3 : a body of persons sent to perform a service or carry on an activity: as a : a group sent to a foreign country to conduct diplomatic or political negotiations b : a permanent embassy or legation c : a team of specialists or cultural leaders sent to a foreign country

ACTS 13:1-5 1In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

What do we see significant about verses 2-4 ?

I Sam 15: 2-3, 9, 22-23 2This is what the LORD Almighty says: `I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy [1] everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

9But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves [2] and lambs--everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

22But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

In both Acts 13:2 and I Sam 15:2-3 God is stating His desire to accomplish His will by utilizing His people to accomplish it. But what is the difference between how the people responded to God's voice in Acts and in I Sam 15? We as people get so caught up in the excitement of hearing God's voice of how He desires to use us that we let our emotions of excitement rule our actions of obedience. This same principle was also true when our Lord healed the 10 lepers in Luke 17: 12-19

12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy [1] met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" 14When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as theywent, they were cleansed. 15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. 17Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." And another example of us letting our emotions rule our actions is in II Sam 6:3-7

3They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4with the ark of God on it, [3] and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs [4] and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. 6When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7The LORD's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.

We as people tend to let our emotions of excitement to control our actions of obedience which is not pleasing to our Father's heart. We need to learn as the people of Acts 13 who after hearing God's voice, they responded on the knees with fasting so that after having done as the Lord had commanded, the two men would truly have been sent of God's Spirit and not man's excitement. Even today we have to deal with both the laziness and rashness of our emotions for God's Word says that the majority of this world will choose the broad and easy path that leads to destruction and so we find ourselves not even praying for much of this world and yet on the other hand, our Lord clearly tells us that it's His will for ALL to be saved. We need to learn the beauty of balance within our lives -- There's no way we can pray for the whole world individually, But we need to grow into what our Lord desires us to do. We need to learn how to be consistent with the little that our Lord gives us. As we are, He will both increase our desire and capability to do more for and through Him. Faith can travel where reasoning can never go and Obedience to God's Word produces ecstasies of joy that allowing our emotions to rule our hearts can never experience.

To be vessels fit for our Lord's mission in this world takes an emptying of ourselves and a clothing of Christ within our hearts. That's why fasting and prayer are so important for us to enter into within our lives so that we may clearly hear our Lord's voice and then move within His will.

God's mission is that the whole world will come to know Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings. His mission will become ours as we draw near to Him with a heart of dogged obedience as Jacob of old who wrestled with the Lord. May we learn how to travail before Him so that we may become His vessels of light to a lost and dying world.

 

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