Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Missions in the World

“So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’  He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times of dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’  After he said this, he was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’”          Acts 1:6-11

So again we see this two-fold mission: to follow Jesus, and to be His witnesses in the world.  He didn’t tell us to stay in our own communities, our Jerusalem, but to go into the entire world, to the ends of the earth.  We have a message of hope we should be spreading to people worldwide.  Each one of us should be involved in taking Jesus to the world. 

There are some easy ways to do this.  We could begin a fund raising effort for one of our ABC Missionaries.  We could do a little research and find something that speaks to us, and make an effort to go beyond our walls to make an even bigger difference.  One possible project we could get behind is the Palm Project in the Congo.  That’s our missions project for the month of March, we’ll hear about it next week.  Our goal is $800, which should help ten families buy about an acre of Palm trees each.  An acre of Palms should support their family for the next 25 years or so, making them self-sufficient.  Last year, we didn’t make $800.  But if we put our heads together and took Jesus’ call to be His witness seriously, and found a way to take this project into the Valley.  We could do a lot more.  And every $80 can help reach another family.  That’s one way we can be involved in taking Jesus to the world. 

Another easy way is to get involved is by taking a short term mission trip.  There were three trips in last week’s bulletin, one of which I found very interesting.  From July 30 to August 5, there will be a trip to Baton Rouge, LA.  We’ll be doing some minor home repairs, helping with community gardens, cutting grass, installing insulation, and encouraging those in need.  Now even if you’re slightly elderly, I suspect you can encourage those in need, so there’s something for everyone to do here.  And the cost is just $250 per person for the week, which covers housing and meals. So maybe you can’t do much, but most can get a way for a week and make a difference. 

If you are  able to do more, there are opportunities to become longer term missionaries.  Opportunities to leave for a month or two, or to even make the sacrifice and make it a longer term commitment.  We have some friends serving in Jamaica who retired from a job in Wellsville, NY, got their pension and social security retirements, and used that money to help fund their ministry.  Now they are full time missionaries in Jamaica. 

I want to close with this thought.  Please don’t think you can’t do anything like this.  If you can dream it you can do it.  This passage ended with the ascension of Jesus.  This is the key. Because Jesus ascended, we can receive power from the Holy Spirit to build His church.  You see, we don’t do it alone! Don’t think you can’t be involved in missions.  God is with you. He can do what we can’t do alone.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Missions in Our Community

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came and to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age.’”
Matthew 28:16-20

We can see from this reading that God desires for us to reach out to those in our world and make disciples of Jesus. Where do we start?  We start in our communities.  We start where we are, with the people we know.  Sometimes, when we see this passage, we might be tempted to think one of two things.  Either we’re only called to make disciples abroad; or, we are only called to evangelize to our friends and family.  The truth is, both are important!  And each of us is called to do both.

Understand that.  You are called to make disciples.  A lot of people think that they aren’t ready to make disciples. They have a number of excuses: “I haven’t been a Christian long enough; I don’t have my act together; people won’t listen to me, I don’t know enough.”  But when Jesus called His first disciples, He called them to follow Him, and make disciples.  Being a Christian is a two-fold calling:  we’re called to follow Jesus, and to make disciples.  Christians are called to be people who disciple others.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Missions in our Church

“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders were being done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Acts 2:42-47

You get the idea that this is a really close group of people, isn’t it.  They devoted themselves together to the teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer.  They met together daily in the temple courts, they helped out anyone in their company that needed help, even selling things they owned to do so, they ate together and worshiped God together.  They loved each other.  And this is an example for us, God designed the church to be a group of people who love each other, just as they are loved by God.

You see, the early church was a place where people unselfishly cared for each other and worked to make a difference in the world.  And this passage tells us exactly what our local churches should look like.  So let’s reflect for a few minutes.  Does our congregation reflect what’s happening in this passage?  If this was God’s plan for the church, what should we be doing differently?  How can we better support each other?  Think about this, let’s start a conversation.

Something else to think about:  There seem to be two focuses in this passage.  They were focused on understanding God’s Word, and on fellowshipping together.  In the early church, people came together daily, and studied the apostles’ teachings. This was the normal life of a new believer. They grew in relationship with God, and they grew in relationship with each other. So as they grew closer to God, they grew closer together as a group. When churches focus on growing closer to Christ, it will help them build stronger bonds with each other.  

Faith First

  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him...