The waiting harvest

This is one of the best things William Barclay wrote in his Daily Study Bible:

THE WAITING HARVEST (Matthew 9:37-38)

9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.”

Here is one of the most characteristic things Jesus ever said. When he and the orthodox religious leaders of his day looked on the crowd of ordinary men and women, they saw them in quite different ways. The Pharisees saw the common people as chaff to be destroyed and burned up; Jesus saw them as a harvest to be reaped and to be saved. The Pharisees in their pride looked for the destruction of sinners; Jesus in love died for the salvation of sinners.

But here also is one of the great Christian truths and one of the supreme Christian challenges. That harvest will never be reaped unless there are reapers to reap it. It is one of the blazing truths of Christian faith and life that Jesus Christ needs men. When he was upon this earth, his voice could reach so few. He was never outside Palestine, and there was a world which was waiting. He still wants men to hear the good news of the gospel, but they will never hear unless other men will tell them. He wants all men to hear the good news; but they will never hear it unless there are those who are prepared to cross the seas and the mountains and bring the good news to them.

Nor is prayer enough. A man might say, “I will pray for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom every day in life.” But in this, as in so many things, prayer without works is dead. Martin Luther had a friend who felt about the Christian faith as he did. The friend was also a monk. They came to an agreement. Luther would go down into the dust and heat of the battle for the Reformation in the world; the friend would stay in the monastery and uphold Luther’s hands in prayer. So they began that way. Then, one night, the friend had a dream. He saw a vast field of corn as big as the world; and one solitary man was seeking to reap it–an impossible and a heartbreaking task. Then he caught a glimpse of the reaper’s face; and the reaper was Martin Luther; and Luther’s friend saw the truth in a flash. “I must leave my prayers,” he said, “and get to work.” And so he left his pious solitude, and went down to the world to labour in the harvest.

It is the dream of Christ that every man should be a missionary and a reaper. There are those who cannot do other than pray, for life has laid them helpless, and their prayers are indeed the strength of the labourers. But that is not the way for most of us, for those of us who have strength of body and health of mind. Not even the giving of our money is enough. If the harvest of men is ever to be reaped, then every one of us must be a reaper, for there is someone whom each one of us could–and must–bring to God.

#harvest #evangelism #mission

Everyone: Colossians 1.28

“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”

Colossians 1.28 ESV

Paul states the purpose of his work in these terms. The Christian’s mission is sharing the gospel. The target, “everyone,” is stated three times in one verse. By “all wisdom” he refers to the full truth of salvation.

Am I hiding the gospel by not sharing with everyone? Am I speaking all God’s wisdom to people? Is Christ my proclamation? Is my goal to see everyone a mature saint in Christ?

#votd #Colossians #mission

Diotrophes’s evil

“If evangelists were not supported, then many people would never have an opportunity to hear and obey the gospel. Those who live the gospel know this. Diotrephes’ behavior, however, was disrupting the evangelistic function of the body of Christ because he was threatening Gaius and others who supported the preaching of the gospel. In contrast to living the gospel, he was doing evil by obstructing the evangelistic function of the body of Christ.” —Roger Dickson

#gospel #evangelism #mission

He went on from there: Matthew 11.1

“When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their towns.”

Matthew 11.1

Jesus sent out the Twelve on a limited preaching tour. He gave them many instructions. Then he himself went about proclaiming the kingdom of God. He dealt with doubts and rejection.

Jesus was all about reaching the lost, in life and in death. How do I demonstrate this objective in my spiritual life?

#votd #Matthew #mission

Do not be silent: Acts 18.9-10

“The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.'”

Acts 18.9-10

Many people had already been immersed in Corinth, and opposition was fierce. The door of opportunity, however, was still open. People were receptive. Paul should continue to proclaim the gospel. The Lord foresaw still more conversions.

We do not have today visions from the Lord about a city’s receptivity. We do have his mission. “… when God gives a man his task to do, he also gives him the power to do it. In the presence of God Paul found his courage and his strength” (Wm. Barclay).

#votd #Acts #mission

Surrounded by wolves: Matthew 10.16

“I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10.16

Jesus sent out the Twelve to preach to Israel. He warned them about opposition. He told them how they should deal with it.

Jesus’ words here applied to Matthew’s readers and to us today. Wisdom is need to meet resistance. We must never lower ourselves to the level of others. What “wolves” have you encountered?

#votd #Matthew #mission

Recognize people like this: 1 Corinthians 16.18

“For they refreshed my spirit and yours. So then, recognize people like this.”

1 Corinthians 16.18

Paul refers to three brothers sent by the Corinthian church to help and encourage Paul. The Corinthians wanted to associate with whom they considered big names. Paul wanted them to see that those who were involved in God’s mission were worthy of recognition.

Who is doing God’s work that deserves recognition among us? What can I do to refresh the spirits of the saints who do God’s work?

#votd #1-Corinthians #mission

Be my witnesses: Acts 1.8

“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 farthest parts of the earth.”

Acts 1.8

The book of Acts follows this program of witnessing to the world. The verse is key to the book. The Holy Spirit empowered the church to proclaim the gospel. They spoke about Jesus.

We continue the work of proclaiming Christ to the world. This is Jesus’ mission for the church in every age. It is an essential identifying mark of the church.

#votd #Acts #mission

A Song of Joy from Jesus’ Sowers

Faith and footwork for the Lord,
Contented smiles to take the News,
Fervent prayers for family growth,
For added workers in the field.

A tropical sun to try the wavering,
Jeers and rocks from passersby,
A song of joy from Jesus’ sowers,
With seeds of hope for heaven’s folk.

Amazed disciples mind their brethren,
Fraternal love to teach and learn
The gifts of life, the gates of glory —
Here reigns our God, the rousing Father.

#church, #mission, #poetry

‘What about the lost in Africa?’

This commentator draws a lesson from Luke 13.1-9:

The passage is significant because Jesus constantly avoids letting the question get off-track; he keeps people considering their own sinful state. I am reminded of the standard question that comes up in evangelistic contexts, often to shift the subject: “What about the heathen in Africa [or some other remote area]?” This abstract question is often posed to deflect a personal confrontation with our sin and our need for God. In former days when confronted with such a question, I would wax eloquent on the evangelistic possibilities or lack of possibilities for those distant folk in need. Recently, thinking of this Lukan exchange, I have tended to quickly refocus the question by assuring the listener that God is perfectly capable of handling the needs of those distant folk, but the real question for us to discuss is what we will do with God and his call to turn to him.

via Luke 12 Commentary – Know the Time: Israel Turns Away but Blessing Still Comes – BibleGateway.com

There is an answer about the lostness of man and the condemnation that sin brings. Like the author above, however, I tend to emphasize the need of the questioner.

God has made the church responsible for telling everyone about Christ. If they’re lost without hearing the gospel, we bear responsibility for it. Let us therefore fulfill our mission with the news of salvation.

(Oh, in Brazil, the question often is asked about the natives in the depths of the Amazon jungle.)

#mission #evangelism #perdition

Not purposeless: 1 Thessalonians 2.1 VOTD

“For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, about our coming to you—it has not proven to be purposeless.”

1 Thessalonians 2.1

When the gospel is preached, God brings forth fruit. The truth is not without effect. Paul recalled the conversion of the Thessalonians. His work among them was the best answer to critics who charged him with disinterest or hidden motives.

How does our work show our purpose and motives? How can you be sure that the gospel will bear fruit?

#gospel #mission #VOTD

Saved: Mark 16.16 VOTD

“The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

Mark 16.16

Jesus gave this command and promise to be preached in all the world, v. 15. The response to the gospel is a part of the message.

This command requires double obedience: first, to believe and be baptized; then, to proclaim it to all. Have you done the first, and are you doing the latter?

#Great-Commission #mission #VOTD

Throughout the earth: Psalm 67.1-2 VOTD

“May God be merciful and bless us.
May his face smile with favor on us. Interlude
May your ways be known throughout the earth,
your saving power among people everywhere.”

Psalm 67.1-2 NLT

Israel received God’s blessing in order to make his ways known to “people all over the world” v. 7, so that they might fear him. The focus of the psalm is v. 4, the just government and guidance of God, which brings joy to the world.

As God’s people today, the church has been given the mission to make God’s salvation known to all. How should the church show that this mission has priority?

#mission #God #VOTD

About to go: Luke 10.1 VOTD

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

Luke 10.1

Jesus prepared his disciples for their future work of proclaiming the gospel and prepared the peoples who would soon be blessed with his presence as he proclaimed the kingdom of God in Israel.

How do Christians today prepare people ahead of time for Jesus’ appearing?

#mission #discipleship #VOTD

Safely: 2 Timothy 4.17-18 VOTD

“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the Gentiles to hear. And so I was delivered from the lion’s mouth! The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever! Amen.”

2 Timothy 4.17-18

The Lord saved Paul so that he might save others. In this life the Lord stood by him. For the next, the Lord delivers from evil and conducts him safely.

The Lord protects us so that we can do his will, that of teaching others the Good News. As we are engaged in this, God is guaranteeing our entry into the heavenly kingdom.

#salvation #mission #VOTD