Tag Archives: missions

December 2; An Outpouring of Thanks

2 Corinthians 7-11

God’s timing makes me smile sometimes.

Paul is writing to the Corinthians about financial giving, especially toward missionary endeavors. Now these chapters have been in the Bible for centuries, I have read them multiple of times myself, and even taught a Bible study from them. But today, God directed Paul’s words specifically toward me.

Because yesterday, our pastor introduced the Southern Baptist Mission Board’s annual Lottie Moon offering for the month of December. See what I mean about God’s timing? Our pastor, a former missionary, is passionate about sharing the Gospel with the whole world. His enthusiasm is contagious.

During his sermon he asked us to pray that God would give us each a number, an amount God would have us contribute toward our church’s goal, which by the way, seems a staggering goal compared to what we’ve given in the past. Like I said, his enthusiasm is contagious.

Anyway, as I was reading this morning and realized Paul was talking about financial support of missions, I stopped and asked God to put a dollar amount on my heart. As I read, a number kept coming to mind. “I can do that,” I answered.

I kept reading, and another, larger amount came to mind. “Really? Well, ok. I can do that,” I said. As I continued to read, another, even larger amount came to mind.

I quit reading.

Just kidding. In fact, I find it thrilling that God and I had that personal conversation this morning. Don’t you love reading His Word?

Paul said the poverty in the Macedonian churches “welled up in rich generosity.” Why shouldn’t I express rich generosity, too? I am not in poverty. He challenged me to “excel in this grace of giving.” I think I need to take that challenge.

Then Paul said, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously, will also reap generously.” That was like a dagger to my heart.

I have to ask myself what kind of harvest I am expecting from my financial support of missions. Do I want just a tiny harvest of souls introduced to Jesus through my tiny contribution? Or do I want an extravagant number of souls saved through my extravagant gift?

I wonder how big a check any of us would write if we knew that $1=one eternal soul. Would $10 be sufficient? Is that what we are sowing, hoping for 10 people to come to the Lord?

I believe God has laid a number on my heart, and I will continue to pray and read His Word to be sure that number is truly from Him. I want to write a check equal to what God is asking of me, not because I want to please our new pastor, or to help our church reach it’s goal.

I want to give what God has laid on my heart because, like Paul said in 9:12, it is an “outpouring of thanks to God.”

And, friend, I have lots of reasons to give thanks to God. Lots of reasons! And I am learning that supporting missions is one way I can express my thanks to my generous Lord.

November 18

Acts 13:1-14:28

I grew up in a church of a denomination that was formed with a wonderful emphasis on missions. We often had missionaries in our pulpit and the Missions Conference was something I looked forward to every year. A week of evening services, colorful flags from countries around the world decorating the sanctuary, slide shows from the mission fields, singing those great hymns about missions, and international dinners! I loved it all.

I know mission work has drawn criticism of late. How dare we impose our western religion on these innocent people? And if you tell them Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one goes to the Father except through him, well – that can really get the critics going!

When Paul talked to the people in Lystra who mistook him for one of their gods, he told them that in the past God let all nations go their own way. “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:16-17) He told them they needed to turn from their worthless gods and put their faith in the living God.

When the people heard this they stoned Paul and left him for dead. Paul pulled himself up and you know what he did? He went back into the city. Why? Because he knew those people were lost without Jesus.

That’s the bottom line. People need the Lord. They are going to hell without him. Is God calling you to serve him in a foreign land? Go! Is he asking you to take the Gospel to the homeless people in your city? Do it! What about the inmates at your local prison? They need Jesus, too. Has God laid on your heart their eternal souls? Be obedient to the call.

If you really believe that Jesus is the answer, then you need to ask yourself what you are willing to do about it, where are you willing to go to share the Truth of the Savior. Paul was faithful to his calling. I pray the same can be said for each of us.

Heavenly Father, what would you say to each of us today? Is there somewhere you want us to go to share the good news of Jesus Christ? Are there remote villages full of people who have never heard? Are there large cities full of busy people who don’t give Jesus a second thought? Would you want us to go into the prisons or into the streets of our own towns to introduce lost souls to the Savior? Forgive our excuses, Lord. May we set aside our hesitations and trust you. If you call, you will also lead. May you find us faithful.

October 10

Mark 4:30-34, 35-41, 5:1-20; Matthew 13:31-35, 24-30, 36-52, 8:23-27, 28-34; Luke 13:18-21, 8:22-25, 26-39

The man had lived for years in a cave like a rabid dog. He was out of his mind, wild and violent. No one could get near him. But when he met Jesus all that changed. Jesus healed the man and restored his sanity.

The townspeople saw the man clothed, sitting with Jesus and in his right mind. And they were afraid. This miracle was beyond anything they had ever seen. Their reaction? They asked Jesus to leave.

So Jesus left the area and the man begged to go with him. I certainly can understand that. He wanted to stay near to Jesus where he was safe and accepted. But Jesus told the man he wanted him to go back into his hometown and tell the people there how much God had done for him. The man obeyed.

I think the hardest people to witness to may be the people who know you the best. They know your secrets. They’ve seen you lose your temper. If you were saved as an adult, they know the lifestyle you led before Christ. This man knew the townspeople had seen him naked and violent and crazy. He was probably the butt of a lot of jokes and the stories about his antics were probably exaggerated. 

But Jesus told the man to go home, look those scoffers in the eye, and tell them how God changed his life. He wanted the man to live with those people and demonstrate the difference Jesus had made. 

He wants us to do that, too. A mission field isn’t always across the ocean. It’s in our living rooms, our neighborhoods, our work places. Every day there is someone we meet who needs to know how God has changed us. They need to see in us something better than what they have without Christ. Yes, we might have to accept the fact that they look at us with suspicion because they know we aren’t perfect. But that doesn’t release us from the responsibility, and the privilege we have to share the Savior with them.

I pray God will give you the opportunity to tell someone today how much he has done for you. Like the man we read about today, let’s be obedient. Is that too much to ask of us who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb? I don’t think so.

September 4

Ezra 1:1-4, 1:5-2:20; Daniel 6:1-28; Nehemiah 7:4-25

Cyrus, King of Persia, gave the ok for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. So eager Jews made their way to the city from all over the area. They were on a mission!

Obviously, not every Jew was led to go and help with the building. Some stayed back. But did you notice that even those who didn’t go contributed financially? They gave silver and gold, goods and livestock, valuable gifts and freewill offerings.

The building of the temple was going to require more than just man power.

Our local churches require more than just pastors and a few Sunday School teachers, too. There are bills to pay, maintenance costs, teaching materials, office supplies. And that’s just a portion of what goes on in most fellowships. And it all costs money.

I hope you give generously so that the building where you meet to worship God is in good condition and able to function.

What part do you have in supporting missions? Do you give above your tithe so that these servants have what they need to reach the lost in other countries? God called them to go. I think he’s called those of us who stay to give. 

Not everyone is called to be a preacher or a missionary. But we need to be giving our silver and our gold, goods and livestock, valuable gifts and freewill offerings so God’s work can be accomplished and souls saved for eternity.

Father, thank you for recording this example of giving. May you find us eager to support our local churches. And may we give sacrificially so that your work can be accomplished all over the world. I pray that we would not hold on to what you have given us, but that we would give back with joyful hearts. Thank you for those dear ones who have answered your call to serve as pastors and teachers here in our country and on foreign soil. May those who sharing your truth be strengthened and may souls be saved for eternity because we were faithful to give.