The quote of last week came from a principal of a public school who wrote, “The great tragedy of this age is that we are standing at the cross roads and the signposts have fallen down.” A greater and more important quote is from Jesus Himself who said (without qualification), “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”
Our first re-established sign post needs to be, ‘DWELL in the Revelation that Christ has brought” which we spent the whole of 2017 repairing. The second re-established sign post needs to be, “Like Jesus Himself; with divine compassion, actually SEE AND ENGAGE the harvest as Jesus describes it”. THIS WILL BE our guiding sign post for 2018.
It might sound simplistic, but for some reason that is undoubtedly connected to the distracting efforts of the evil one, we DON’T SEE and therefore CAN’T ENGAGE the harvest i.e. the crowd who is harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.
One of the greatest lies of the devil (and I am hesitant to credit satan with such a successful ploy) is that we have fallen into the trap of believing that only certain people are called to the mission field. One of the reasons we fall for this lie is a very simple. We define the mission field WRONGLY. We define it as being overseas or only in remote places that we think haven’t yet received the gospel of the kingdom. WHERE IS THAT IN THE BIBLE?
When Jesus commissions the disciples to GO, he emphatically states, to ALL the world, literally to ALL ETHNOS which is every culture or nation. When Luke records Jesus’ words in Acts 1 he clarifies the commission further with the words ‘IN Jerusalem, AND in all Judea and Samaria, AND to the ends of the earth (Australia – not Luke)’. As always with the kingdom of God it is AND – AND – AND. By Acts 8 there is serious persecution going on and in a very serious way (I believe to put a rocket under the disciples in Jerusalem to some extent) the persecution mandates a dispersion which has as an outcome the effect of sending followers of Jesus out all over the known world whilst the majority of the apostles remained in Jerusalem to anchor the campaign and to some degree act as a diversion.
If we take a step back to Jesus’ ministry in the first place, the mission field was EVERY village within walking distance where the disciples’ families and friends were, their neighbours, their work companions, their community involvement acquaintances and more. THE HARVEST WAS WHEREVER THE CROWD LIKE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD, WERE.
How did we get so distracted, even lost? Well … to prepare for a campaign to the crowds connected to us takes divinely imparted compassion, intentional faith and effort that matches all of that and as such probably nowhere near as exciting or seemingly adventurous as going somewhere ‘out there’.
Now … I am NOT saying that overseas mission isn’t a priority. On the contrary I am saying that trusting Jesus to lead us into whatever place he calls us to live, work and play IS the priority and for some of us that will be somewhere else but for most of us that will be where we have been planted and RIGHT THERE in our homes and neighbourhoods we may be the ONLY Jesus the people around us know.
The other part of the lie we have fallen for makes each of us feel that we haven’t got the gifts or skills necessary to be missionaries. Please hear this clearly, not even all the disciples had everything they needed for the apostolic task set before them. Some were Evangelists, others Teachers; some were Pastors, some Apostles and some Prophets. Some were Hosts and Home makers, some were Administrators and yet others were Givers. Most were a mixture of a few of these. The lie makes us FALSELY believe that if we aren’t gifted in up front or platform type gifts and skills then we aren’t able to lead mission work anywhere. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM GOD’S TRUTH. In his letters to the Corinthian and Ephesian churches, Paul passes on the BODY revelation to deal with just such a lie. All parts working together as they should produce a heaven-like maturity and advance the kingdom. We need apostles and prophets because they are the foundations of the church. We need pastors, evangelists and teachers because they are the equipping ministries of the church. BUT, just as it takes a community to raise a child; it takes a faith community committed to representing and demonstrating the kingdom of heaven with WHATEVER responsibility we are anointed with to build the church that looks like Jesus and to raise fellow workers for the harvest approved by God and mature IN Christ.
This year we are going to help each other identify our mission fields and our God apportioned gifts, then equip each other through the Holy Spirit, just as we would our missionaries too far off places, i.e. with every tool needed to represent and demonstrate the gospel of the kingdom right where we are EVERYDAY. Together we will see what God can do when His people not only pray for lives and communities to be transformed, but when they trust Jesus with their hearts and with their actions that follow and as ONE BODY, represent heaven on planet earth.
HOPE College – a place to begin and remain connected to, wherever we are sent
Just like the mistake we have made believing that mission fields are places beyond where we are, Bible College is NOT a place we go and study for a while, mostly isolating ourselves away from the mission field God has planted us IN.
HOPE College is a framework for making discipling followers of Jesus OUR PRIORITY.
WE WANT PEOPLE TO BE EQUIPPED FOR THE MISSION FIELD THEY ARE IN WHILST THEY ARE IN IT AND FOR AS LONG AS THEY ARE CALLED TO BE IN IT. This framework DOES include the opportunity for people to study for ministry and or other community leadership work with nationally accredited courses BUT we believe in TWO things which give us guidelines for what’s important for us in our local community of faith.
- We believe that the LIFE VOCATION of ALL followers of Jesus is mission – just as it was for our Lord and Saviour and the first disciples. It doesn’t matter what work skills or job craft (fishing, tax collecting) we are involved in, we are followers of Jesus FIRST and that flavours and frames EVERYTHING else we do.
- Discipleship is NOT an 8 week bible study program, it is the life-long learning we do at the feet of Jesus, remaining humble and teachable all our lives so our hearts stay SOFT to receive kingdom revelation.
Jesus’ coaching method was to walk WITH the disciples in the region of their homes & work places, doing the work of the mission whilst they watched, then doing the work of the mission whilst they helped, then Jesus helped whilst the disciples did the work of the mission, then Jesus sent THEM to do the work of the mission whilst He watched but not without giving them the ongoing companion of the Spirit so that the workers were always connected to something MORE from heaven.
THIS IS WHAT WE WANT TO HAVE A GO AT … it might take a few experiments. Like the disciples before us we might trip over ourselves occasionally or frequently BUT we will keep reconnecting with Jesus and IN Him keep on going. It doesn’t matter whether you enroll for one workshop or a Part of Full Time Internship, PLEASE FILL OUT AN APPLICATION FORM AND DELIVER IT TO US ASAP SO WE CAN PREPARE THE FIRST LEARNING MODULES AND SET UP FOR THE 2018 STUDY YEAR. WE HAVE DISTANCE / ONLINE MODES SO JOIN US FROM WHEREVER YOU ARE LOCATED. YOU CAN PICK ONE UP OR CONTACT US VIA THE LINK BELOW.
More updates in next week’s blog. We will catch up with what Jono, one of our ministry interns has been up to and we’ll update what we’ve been praying about re. leadership development ….
A Summary of this week’s message for Prayer, Devotional Reflection, Response and Action
The Series is … ‘Cultivating the Culture of Heaven On Planet Earth’
The THREE scriptures that form our reference points for this series
- Matthew 6: particularly* verses 5-15
- John 17: particularly* verses 13-26
- Acts 2: particularly* verses 42-47
* Context is everything so don’t just read the particularly referenced verses
Culture 5. ‘DIVINE COMPASSION – EVANGELISM’S CORE FOUNDATION’
Focus Scriptures: Matthew 9:36-38; Isaiah 49:1-12; Romans 5:1-11 (Read for context)
- a) Some Foundations and Context
Compassion is a Greek derived word = Splagchnizomai (splangkh-nid-zom-ahee)
Splagchna = the bowel or pit of the bowel
Add ‘moved with’ to compassion = Splagchniztheis and you have the strongest known word for pity in the Greek language = moved to the deepest depths of a person’s being AND ONLY USED OF JESUS OR BY JESUS (parables)
“When He saw the crowds He had ‘compassion’ ON them …..” (Matt. 9:36a)
A Brief word study using a study bible reveals …
Jesus was moved with compassion for the world’s pain
Sickness (Matthew 14:14)
Blindness (Matthew 20:34)
Possession (Mark 9:22)
Jesus was moved with compassion for the world’s sorrow (Luke 7:13)
Jesus was moved with compassion for the world’s hunger (Matthew 15:32)
Jesus was moved with compassion by the world’s loneliness (Mark 1:41)
Jesus was moved with compassion in our focus scripture by the world’s state of harassment & helplessness (bewilderment = eskulmenoi) literally a person who is plundered, flayed even mangled … utterly wearied without any hope
(the cause = oppression of religious leaders & the gnat strained scribal law)
b) This culture of HOPE ‘reveals’ the harvest … When Jesus saw the CROWD He was moved with compassion ……. Sheep without a shepherd (What do we see?)
Personal Reflection: I know that when I think of the people in my life (family & friends) who are in pain, sorrowful, hungry (I.e. not experiencing contentment), lonely, lost or bewildered …. I DO want to see them ‘saved’ BUT what I’m discovering is that I need to be ‘moved with compassion’ otherwise it’s about numbers, scalps and notches, it’s not about completion or fullness in kingdom terms.
Do I see the need to feed, heal, fill, bring contentment? Well …. JESUS DID
Are we Moved to act and not hide from the seeming burden of the crowd
(I used a personal example of how God challenged me about this culminating in a challenge from Isaiah 49:1-12)
Jesus’ compassion led to a blind man seeing His saviour, led to a sorrowful woman having her tears removed as though she was experiencing the kingdom of heaven talked about in Revelation 21.
His compassion led to a leper not just being healed but fully restored to his community
Jesus SAW the crowds who ALL needed a shepherd to introduce them to GOD’s TRUTH IN Christ & not just adhered to religious duties and rules
THAT’S WHY HE RECOGNIZED THE HARVEST AS GREAT … IT ALWAYS IS
c) This culture of HOPE ‘describes’ the harvest … And the workers always FEW …. Workers who are moved with divine compassion hadn’t been equipped and sent …
Unlike the view of the Pharisees, the crowd were NOT common people to be destroyed and burned as chaff BUT as it was through the eyes of Jesus, the crowd is a precious, invaluable harvest, objects of God’s love to be reaped & re-sown into the world as good seed that reproduces a kingdom crop …
LET US AGREE TODAY … LET US AGREE TO CULTIVATE THE CULTURE OF DIVINE COMPASSION FOR THE LOST, FOR THE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD …. Who’s with Jesus???
Who will stand up for the sick? Who will stand up for the blind and speak up for the voiceless? Who will help Jesus feed the hungry or be a companion to the lonely, that is the lonely who don’t know Christ? (We are not lonely who know Christ)
God is a missionary God and He wants us TOGETHER to be a missionary community (i.e. Jesus) to our families, our friends, our neighbours, our work mates
Jesus wants us to GO ….
We can pray but that won’t get the job done (give me the prayer group that has LEGS under its prayers) – one person can’t do it BUT all of us representing Jesus can
Lord, we need divine compassion for the dozen or more people that each and every one of us knows that need Christ in their lives. We can’t necessarily get them to a Sunday meeting or a rally BUT WE CAN REPRESENT THE DIVINE COMPASSION OF CHRIST FOR THEM TOGETHER AND DEMONSTRATE HEAVEN ON EARTH EVERYDAY. How you ask?
‘God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8)
How can we resist this love which stirs from compassion?
Who will go, whom shall we send? Here I am …. Send me
Because of tiredness, age, health, whatever … some of us can ‘only’ pray (BUT not just as faithful individuals lets commit with others) some of us can give, some of us can mentor trainees …. We need to commit to this as a COMPANY TO SEE THE DAY OF SALVATION
Let’s soak in Romans 5:1-11, something from heaven that I find impossible to resist ….
As you read and pray, ask God if He wants you to give your heart to this intentional missionary endeavour, (for the first time or as a re-commitment) asking God to ‘move you with compassion’ to see the harvest. Let me know if God challenges you in this. Let’s chat ….
Here’s the Link to What’s Happening at the HUB this week http://corrimalcommunitychurch.com.au/blog/9-uncategorised/7-click-here
Here’s the Link to this week’s Prayer Diary for The HOPE Project http://corrimalcommunitychurch.com.au/blog/9-uncategorised/9-click-here
Here’s the Link to HOPE College, Student information & Application Process http://corrimalcommunitychurch.com.au/blog/9-uncategorised/10-click-here