Monday, December 16, 2013

Missionary Momentum

I don't often mention the term 'Evangelical' but I am one. People have different ideas about what the term means and perhaps people picture someone who is very stern and has a strict moral code that they live by and want to enforce within their society but really an evangelical is a person that sees the power of the Gospel. The Gospel is the focus and not morality or any other man made methods. A person with this focus talks about salvation and emphasizes that it is necessary that a person be saved by The God of the Bible (not by self effort) and because of that evangelicals are annoying to people or philosophies that emphasize self accomplishment.

The fact is... If my Christianity has made me a moral man without momentum my morality will not be satisfying. It may protect me in degrees but morality is not miraculous and my soul craves the miraculous. Grace is the sweet and satisfying sound a soul needs.

Here is a great picture in Isaiah 48 of God explaining this to Israel. It takes up the whole chapter but I am only going to talk out parts of God's reasoning.

"Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and who came from the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the LORD and confess the God of Israel, but not in truth or right. For they call themselves after the holy city, and stay themselves on the God of Israel; the LORD of hosts is his name." - Isaiah 48:1-2 ESV

Here God is saying that this people group who are descendants of a man who knew God and was transformed by Him that they are much more like the man before he was transformed.

"The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass, I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, 'My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.' You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it?" - Isaiah 48:3-6a ESV

"From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known. They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, lest you should say, 'Behold, I knew them.' You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel." - Isaiah 48:6b-8 ESV

" 'Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together. 'Assemble, all of you, and listen! Who among them has declared these things? The LORD loves him; he shall perform his purpose on Babylon, and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken and called him; I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way." - Isaiah 48:12-15 ESV

"Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.'

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, 'The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!' They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.

'There is no peace,' says the LORD, 'for the wicked.' " - Isaiah 48:18-22 ESV

That was a big chunk of scripture where God is talking to a particular people group but it speaks to me and tells me something as a believer today. You can read this and say, 'Why is God telling them to talk about the red sea that was hundreds of years before this was written and their society must have changed to much by this time?' Yes, We could say the same things about the cross couldn't we? It is a mirror of this passage.

"Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.' " - Mark 16:14-15 ESV

It is important that the message have momentum in our lives both on a personal level and a corporate one. If the message loses momentum we find ourselves reclining at the table.

The bottom line is that the God of the Bible is a saving God. Jesus saves. We need to hear the message coming out of our own mouths.

Does anyone like to be annoying? Maybe some do... I don't. But that always going to be the secret to gaining and maintaining momentum. For some it will mean life and death when they hear our message. They will embrace it and be transformed by it and one soul is beyond price.

God, Give us courage to be harmless, kind and willing to risk this week. It is social risk to sow seed, water it and open our mouths in hope that someone is finally ready. Make us risk takers. You have to do it. Thank you God for the things of old and for what you have in store for the future.

God has done things long ago but He wants to do new things in dark places in the coming days. The missionary is the one who will see the miraculous. The one abroad and the one at home.


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