In yesterday’s reading, we thought about how we might have reacted to the instructions of Jesus to “go and make disciples of all the nations”. The important part for us in any work in which God asks us to participate is to agree and believe. How do we get to that point? We start by remembering that God never asks us to do anything that He has not prepared us to do and that He is ready to provide everything we need to complete the work. Look at the training that Jesus had given the disciples. They had had three years of walking and talking with Him on a daily basis, observing Him as He interacted with people on all levels of society and healing them. In today’s society, that would probably qualify them for a doctorate degree in Christianity. God had used the evil Romans to build the roads necessary and to make the country safe enough to travel. He had sent the disciples out once before with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back and the sandals on their feet. They had passed the survival test then and they would again. When God calls us to participate in His Kingdom work, He just wants us to agree and be available, He provides everything else. So when you feel that little nudge, don’t doubt, don’t fear, don’t be a Zechariah and get struck dumb for nine months, be a Mary and become “blessed above all”
Jesus commissioned us to go and make disciples starting at home and working our way out to the rest of the world. Making disciples requires more than just the plan of salvation. We are to spend time with new converts teaching them the discipline of the Word of God. We must show them by example that we have to spend time with the Word and talking with God on a daily basis. We also must show them that it is necessary for us to spend time together as Christians. We are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We need the encouragement and help of those around us to endure in our walk with God. There is the old example of removing a red hot ember from the fireplace and setting it out by itself. It is soon black and cold. You can put it back in the fireplace and it is soon red hot and giving off warmth again. Our spirits are the same way, we need that “togetherness” to keep our passion and compassion flowing for Jesus. Learn all you can and take the time to teach what you have learned to those around you. That is the way each of us can fulfill the commission that Jesus gave to the disciples and to us
Paul sets a great example for us to follow when we are witnessing to others. We should be doing this because our hearts’ desire is to show others the love that we have for them. We have this love for them because of the love Jesus has for us. No other motive is needed, not money, not fame, not popularity. Even while spending his life as a missionary, Paul worked as a tentmaker, so that his presence would not be a financial burden on those to whom he was speaking. He and his companions did their best to mirror the lifestyle of Jesus, their Lord and Savior. Because Jesus cared enough to die for us, Paul spent his life in caring for others, just like a Mother cares for her children. Not only was he concerned about their physical welfare, but he cared even more about their spiritual welfare. He didn’t just preach the Gospel message and leave them, he spent time in explaining the scriptures to them and living an obedient lifestyle while he was there with them. He encouraged, comforted and urged them to live lives worthy of God. In other words, he was “making disciples”, teaching them how to grow in the word and not leaving them as babies without food and no one to feed them. He exemplified God’s love even more by writing letters to them after he had left as well as sending some of his companions back to check on them at times. Jesus’ command was not to “love them and leave them” or to “save them and send them’, it was to make disciples.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matt. 28:19, 20 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
We all know the old hymn, “Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow”. We sing it quite often in worship services across the nation regardless of the denomination. It is a great invitational song for getting people to commit to the mission fields. But I wonder if we really hear the words that we are singing or if we are just making noise. I think we need to change the song for a while and sing “Where He leads me, will I follow?”. Will I go on a mission trip? Oh no, can’t spare the time for that. Will I visit those in prisons? Nope, not my calling. Will I visit the sick in the hospitals and pray for their healing? Again, I just don’t feel the call. Will I feed the hungry? Well, you know I give to charities to do that. Will I walk across the street to witness to my neighbor? You know, they might be offended, really need to be careful there. Will I ask a lost family member if we could pray together? Well. they are not going to listen, they know I’m not perfect. Don’t I need a calling to do those things? Well, here is our calling,
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 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.” – Matt. 28:18-20
HEAR IT! HEED IT! NOW!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
24 Then the Pharisees who had been sent 25 asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” 26 John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. 27 Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” 28 This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”—John 1:24-31 (NLT)
While Elizabeth was pregnant with John and Mary was pregnant with Jesus, Mary visited Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s voice, Elizabeth’s baby leaped within her womb. Even before John was born, He already knew his purpose and recognized his Lord. John stayed faithful to that mission. He is a great example of humility and faithfulness for us. We should be aware that God had a plan for us before we were born. It is our responsibility to determine that plan and follow it faithfully and humbly. We should never presume to do anything for God that He has not called us to do. God does not see success as the world sees success. What God wants from us is obedience and faithfulness. 22 But Samuel replied,
“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams—1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)