Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Being sent is not about doing great things for Jesus. Being sent means yielding yourself to the Spirit to be used by him.
It means being perceptive to where he is at work around you and joining him. It's not about what you can do for God. It's about what the Holy Spirit can do through you. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer here on this final day of May. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today we are wrapping up a special teaching that's all about how God can use us right where we are. We talk a lot on the show about living our lives on a mission, sent into the mission field that God has placed us in. And today we'll hear more about how we can fulfill the Great Commission in our families, our workplaces, and whatever situation we find ourselves in. Because no matter what season of life we're in, our calling as followers of Jesus is to live sent. If you missed the first half of this message yesterday, you can catch up at jdgreer.com. But for now, let's open our Bibles to John chapter 20 and rejoin Pastor J.D.
right now. Sent people have a rich theology of place. I realize God is always at work around me.
I'm here in a specific place for a specific purpose, and God has determined my personal borders, where I live and where I work and who I run into. So open up your eyes. What do you see? Put yourself out there.
Ask questions. Tell your story, because y'all, you never know when God is at work around you, because Jesus said he's always at work. By the way, there are numerous biblical analogies that reinforce this.
You ever seen these? Just think about the analogy. For example, scripture says we are farmers. In those days, farmers would throw a lot of seed, and a lot of that seed would not land on good soil. In fact, three-fourths of it in Jesus' analogy doesn't land on good soil.
One-fourth of it does. You don't control it. You just throw it out there and see what grows. Fisherman. A good fisherman always has his line in the water. I never know when God is going to send the big one under my boat. I want to make sure my line is in the water when he does. My own analogy, my own variation for this one, is a metal detector.
This one's not in the Bible, okay? But I'm always asking questions like I'm a metal detector. I'm just running the magnet over the sand to see where God might be at work.
Many times, listen, most times, nothing happens. Just the other day, I was flying back again from Atlanta, sitting next to a woman on this plane. I started asking her about her life. I threw out several leading questions. I mean, putting the cookies on the bottom shelf.
All of them bombed, just like a lead balloon. I was about to give up, literally have my book open, about to put my headphones on, when I asked one more question. She told me she was a nurse who worked with terminal patients.
I said, it's got to be hard working around death all the time, isn't it? And she said, well, to be honest, death scares me to death. That led to the most incredible conversation where I shared my story and what I love about Jesus. At one point in the conversation, she told me that she loved Chick-fil-A. So before we de-planed, I handed her a Chick-fil-A BR guest card that somebody had given to me. And I said, hey, I tell you, why don't you use this? And when you do, why don't you consider maybe the reason you were sitting next to me on this flight, maybe it wasn't accidental. Maybe of all the people you could have sat next to in this flight, God put you next to me so I could ask you these questions.
And she was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand. I'm already way ahead of you on that. I know this is not accidental. We're just fishermen. We're meddled at that. That's all I'm doing.
Here's one more. We are royal ambassadors. Second Corinthians 5, 20, which means we have set up a little outpost in this country.
That's your workplace, in your neighborhood, on your hall. You're just there. You've got a little outpost, but you really represent the king of a different country.
And people can come to our embassy, so to speak. When they got a question for our king or a need, they need something from our king, they can come to us, which leads me to number three. Sent people start with prayer. Like, where do I start?
This is where you start. The author of this book, I told you as a professor of English at Penn State University, which obviously is a secular school. She would say a very secular school. She says that often before class, she will walk through the classroom and she will pray over the empty seats of her students.
Sometimes even kneeling down beside their chairs and praying over them by name and for blessing. It's not appropriate for her to preach in the classroom, of course. She's just praying for them.
She said often, one of my favorite verses to pray is that verse in Psalm 119, where the psalmist says, turn their eyes from worthless things to you, the living and the true God. She said, one spring, I got a Facebook message from a parent. Now she said, listen, when you're a college professor, you never want to hear from a parent.
It's always bad news. She said, but in this case, the woman said, hey, my husband and I were coming into town and we would really love to take you out to lunch. She said, I knew their son. I recognized their last name. And I'd always assumed that their son was just a typical frat boy.
But a lot of times he would get to class early and be setting up. And one day he said to me, do you and your husband have a great time tailgating at the football games? She said, well, somehow in the conversation, it came out that my husband and I are not heavy drinkers, to which he said, well, then what do you do for fun?
I told him a few things and he did not seem that impressed. She said, but that was the, that was the extent of our, the deepest conversation we ever had. The semester ended and his parents showed up on the break to take me out to lunch. She said, the mom looks at me across the table and she said, we just wanted to tell you, thank you. She said, we almost lost our son last semester.
We, we tried to raise him right, but then he came to Penn state and he's out partying and drinking all the time. She said, but then a couple of months ago, he started talking about this Christian professor. She said, I never told him directly that I was a Christian.
I just told him that I didn't get drunk. And I guess that was enough to communicate to him that I was a Christian. She said, he started wanting to drive, her mom said, he started wanting to drive home and go to church with us. She said, we've been praying that God would send somebody to open his eyes to the truth. And she said, Dr. Holloman said, then I shared with her that several times a week, I prayed that very thing for her son, as I did several of my students, that God would turn their eyes away from worthless things.
And when I said that, she just burst into tears. At which point the husband who was a mountain of a man and hardly said a word up into this time, he just looked at me and said, if you ever feel like what you're doing is not making a difference, you need to remember my son. We were so worried about him and God sent you.
Y'all listen, if you ever think that where you are, what you're doing, it's just not worth it. You need to realize that you might be sitting next to somebody or rooming with them or working with them because somebody out there somewhere prayed, God sent somebody. It might've been a mom, a dad, a child, a friend, a grandparent. They said, God sent somebody and God sent you.
Open your eyes and just start to pray. Number four, sent people listen for the Holy Spirit. Sent people listen for the Holy Spirit. Right after Jesus said, so I'm sending you.
He followed it up by saying, breathing on them and then saying, receive the Holy Spirit. Now let's just be honest. I can acknowledge this. That's a little weird.
I don't do this with my friends. Hey, Rick, I'm blowing his face. This is not some kind of Jewish greeting. Jesus was symbolically, he was giving them a picture of the Holy Spirit. He said, well, wait a minute. Didn't the Holy Spirit, didn't he come to them at Pentecost?
Yes. But it wasn't like they had no interaction with the Spirit before Pentecost. Believers all throughout the Old Testament and these disciples pre-Pentecost, they were filled with the Spirit at various times. At Pentecost was when the Holy Spirit permanently fused himself into the hearts of believers. So Jesus is giving them a preview, a foretaste of Pentecost. And what it shows us is the importance of the Holy Spirit in being sent. Jesus is never going to talk about it with us without saying Spirit, because you can't be sent apart from the leadership of the Spirit. Being sent is not about doing great things for Jesus. Being sent means yielding yourself to the Spirit to be used by him.
It means being perceptive to where he is at work around you and joining him. Again, Jesus said, John 5, I never do things on my own initiative. Think about that. Jesus said, I don't go do stuff on my own initiative. I only do. I only do what I see the Father doing, which means you've got to develop eyes and ears to perceive what the Spirit is doing. I'm not trying to do things for Jesus.
I'm trying to do things with him. You might feel like you don't have that much potential, that much ability in ministry, but you understand it's not about that anymore. It's not about what you can do for God. It's about what the Holy Spirit can do through you. Jesus said that one believer yielded to his Spirit had more potential in ministry than the most talented leader on the planet.
Hey, I'll prove it to you. Here's your trivia question. According to Jesus, who was the greatest preacher of all time? Who was Jesus' favorite preacher? The name starts with J, rhymes with on the Baptist. John the Baptist.
Very good guess. Jesus loved the preaching of John the Baptist. He podcasted John the Baptist. He wore WWJTBD bracelets.
Hey, he loved it. Okay. Matthew 11, 11. Here's what he said. Truly I say to you, among those born of women, which is everybody, there's arisen nobody greater than John the Baptist. Greatest preacher ever to live. Right?
Ever to live. Watch this. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. All right. First, what does it mean to be least in the kingdom of heaven?
Let's just answer it. What does that mean? It's got to mean you're the least talented. You're the least important. You have the least spiritual gifts. You know the least about the Bible.
You have the worst personality. You show the least promise for the kingdom of God. You're the least of all these things.
Let me just make it real. Somebody in here listening to me right now, you are the least in the kingdom of heaven in all of this group. I'm not saying that to be mean. I'm just saying mathematically that has to be true. If you got least and most, somebody's at the bottom. Right now you are sitting there thinking it might be me. And God the Father's like, yep, it's you. You're at the bottom of this pile. Now, what I'm telling you is that even if that is true, you have more potential in ministry than John the Baptist.
Why? Well, you got something John never had. You got the permanent fusing of the Holy Spirit into your soul, and you have a firsthand knowledge of the resurrection. You see, if the Holy Spirit is inside of you, it's no longer about your ability for Jesus.
It's just about your availability to His Spirit. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online anytime at jdgrier.com. Before we get back to today's teaching, I want to take a moment to remind you about an amazing resource that we offer our listeners. If you have real life questions about real life problems, about theology or what the Bible teaches, you won't want to miss Pastor JD's Ask Me Anything podcast. In each episode, Pastor JD answers actual questions submitted by listeners just like you, using biblical wisdom and practical advice.
Unsure what to think about a current debate in culture? How should we live in light of truths found in Scripture? Pastor JD tackles the toughest questions you can drum up. And the best part?
It's completely free. You can access Ask Me Anything with JD Greer by visiting jdgreer.com slash podcast, or by searching for it on your favorite podcast platform. Don't miss a single episode by subscribing to the podcast today. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD on Summit Life. God can do more through one willing vessel than all the talent in the universe. Every once in a while in Acts, you'll get a little glimpse of this. One of my favorite examples is also in Acts 8, Philip. He's involved in this thriving ministry when the Spirit of God leads him to do something that makes no sense.
I want you to travel up north, the Spirit says, into a barely populated part of the country. There, Philip was, in obedience to the Spirit, but along by comes a guy reading from the book of Isaiah that we now refer to as the Ethiopian eunuch. And Philip, in obedience to the Spirit, goes up there, shares Christ with him. The guy trusts Christ, gets baptized. According to Eusebius, the fourth century church historian, that Ethiopian eunuch goes back to sub-Saharan Africa, where he froms, and not only continues to follow Jesus, but he plants a church and starts a mini church planting movement that you can still trace some of the stuff that is going on in sub-Saharan Africa today.
You can trace it back to Ethiopian eunuch's conversion, which you can trace back to Philip's obedience. You see the point being made? Philip's not an apostle, and the Holy Spirit can do more through one surrendered vessel than all the apostles have been able to accomplish in missions on their own up to that point, which means something, that we just got to learn to listen for his guidance. He said, I only do what I see the Father doing. Our vision as a church is not about coming up with great plans and asking God to bless them. Our vision is following the Holy Spirit. What do you want us to do? We're not here to come up with good ideas for you. We want to perceive God ideas.
Those are the good ideas. If you're going to be effective as a sent person, you've got to pick up the abilities to hear and to perceive what he's doing. That's what this whole thing is about, is following the Holy Spirit. That's number four.
Sent people know how to lean into and listen to the Holy Spirit. I've told you this before, but the Holy Spirit shows up 59 times in the book of Acts. 59.
Get this. In 36 of the 59, he's speaking. Now, here's what's frustrating. It never tells us how he speaks.
Isn't it frustrating? I'm like, that's something I want to know. Acts 13, too. The Holy Spirit said to the early church, separate Barnabas and Paul for ministry. How did he say it? Don't you want to know that? How did he say it? Did everybody think the same thought at once? Did he write it on the chalkboard? Did somebody, while they're praying, have a little dialogue box with the three dots that appear above their head?
They're like, oh, God's speaking to that person. It doesn't tell us. I would submit to you that ambiguity is intentional. You want to know why?
You know why. More havoc in the world has been wreaked following the words God just told me than any other phrase. So the Holy Spirit always wants us to be very humble and even a little tentative in what we think God is saying. It means we're always submitting it to one another, saying, I think God might be saying this.
I think God is putting this on my heart. If we're going to say, this is what God says, and we're going to know it, it's going to need a chapter and verse behind it. But while there is ambiguity in how the Spirit speaks to us, there is no ambiguity in whether he speaks to us.
And if the early church depended on the leadership of the Holy Spirit in order to be effective, how much more should you and I be dependent on the leadership of the Spirit? Do you get what I'm saying? Number five, last one. Number five, sent people. Sent people see all of life as a platform of service. You see, this is where we go back to the very beginning. The fundamental question, what's your identity? Who are you?
Who are you? Are you here as an acquirer? Is that your primary identity? Are you here as somebody who is here to win? Somebody here to prove yourself? Are you here as somebody who is going to conquer and accomplish? Are you an accomplice and actualize your dreams?
Or is your primary identity somebody who is sent to serve? There's a story that I heard in seminary, and it went like this. During the 18th century, there were two Moravian missionaries.
One was named John Dover, and one was named David Neichman. They became burdened to reach the inhabitants of a nearby island in the Caribbean, now known as St. Thomas. The inhabitants of this island had been taken there as slaves, most of them. They wanted to go and share the gospel with these slaves because they believed they were made in the image of God just like they were. But the plantation owners, who were not spiritual people at all, they feared that if these slaves got their heads full of ideas about being made in the image of God and being valuable to God, they might revolt.
And so the plantation owner said, no, you can't come. The story goes, the way I heard it, is that the missionaries, because they couldn't go down there and work among the slaves, they sold themselves into slavery. Two young freemen sold themselves into slavery in order to take the gospel to the islanders. As word spread about the brave sacrifice they were making, Moravians from up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States came and stood on the shore as these two young men were put into shackles. And they put them on the boat, and they were getting ready to take them away forever to live as slaves. And as the boat pulls away from the shore, one of the men reaches up his hands in chains and he points up at the heavens and he says, may the lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering. What an amazing story, right?
It's so inspiring. It's just not the actual story. It is true. It is true that these men were burdened to reach these slaves. It is true that the plantation owners said no. It is also true that these men offered to sell themselves into slavery, but the owner said no to that too.
They're like, we can't have that. So what these guys did is they boarded a ship, not in chains, they boarded as freemen, 1732, and they went to live among the people of St. Thomas. They lived right outside the plantation. They prayed and prayed over these slaves and they looked for any chance to engage them. For 50 years, they labored in the West Indies without any aid from any other religious denomination. It was hard work. Usually it was boring, mundane.
But when these men finally died 50 years later, they left 13,000 baptized converts on that island and a streak of new churches in St. Thomas, St. Croix, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, and St. Kitts. That's the true story. Honestly, I think the true version might be more inspiring to me than the exaggerated one.
Because it's one thing, it's one thing you ought to sell yourself into slavery in one dramatic gesture. It's a whole different thing to get up every day and lay down your life for others. It's another thing to get up and go about your work, mundane, boring, and just be looking for where God's at work around you.
That takes a resolve and a dedication that goes down into your bones. Their statement, they really made the statement, may the lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering. They made that statement, but it was not said in one rhetorical flourish. It was said in the overall context of just how they lived their lives. So I ask again, do you think of yourself as primarily here to acquire, to make something of yourself, to realize your dreams, to have a good time, or is your primary identity you are sent as Jesus was sent? If so, it's probably not going to be one big dramatic mission field obedience moment. It might, but you're likely going to show it by living a life of service, a life of reaching out, a life of asking questions, inviting others into your home.
People that you wouldn't normally feel comfortable, not your normal friends, you're going to open up your home and invite them in, sharing your story, giving of yourself to meet the needs of others around you. That's what it's going to look like because those two men obeyed 13,000 slaves and many more after that came to Christ. What's going to happen if you begin to live sin? Somebody here, because you put your yes on the table today, there's going to be a people group in North Africa without a witness to the gospel that is going to hear about Jesus. Or maybe because you put your yes on the table this morning, a foster family in need of a break is going to get the help they need to continue on in their ministry. You're going to become what we call a safe family here involved in this process or a prisoner who is ending his sentence. Because you say yes, he's going to be able to have a job in a faith community when he makes his way back into society.
Refugees in our community, because you say yes, are going to feel like they aren't alone in a strange land. And they're going to learn to give Jesus the credit for that. Maybe there's going to be a person in your apartment complex or your class at school or on one of your teams that's going to get a chance to hear about Jesus and experience the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven. Jesus' main identity in the gospel of John is sent one. And now he says, as the Father sent me, I'm sending you.
That's your motivation, by the way. If you're a Christian, the reason you're here, the reason you know God at all, is because Jesus did not hold onto his entitlement and his privilege, but he emptied himself for you. He became a servant for you. He washed your feet. He took your shame. He died on a cross to save and redeem you.
If he had not done that, you would be lost. And now he says, the Father sent me to you. So I'm sending you to others. We gladly do it because those who believe the gospel, they can't help but become like the gospel. Jesus gave up so much for me.
I can't possibly not want to do that for others. So how are you living sent? If you missed any part of today's teaching and want to listen to it again, just head to jdgrier.com to access our entire sermon library right now for free. JD, in today's message, you unpacked what our listeners may not know as the last three words that we hear at the Summit Church every single weekend. And those are you are sent.
We talked about it yesterday, but it's so important that I wanted to bring it up again. Why exactly do you send us out with those words? We close our services that way, really because that's Jesus's last words to his disciples. And on one of the last conversations he had with him, he said, as the Father sent me, so I am sending you. I've often pointed out to the church, you know, like of all the different things that Jesus could have said there, you know, you're going to be my, think of all the things you could have put in that blank, could have said worshippers, could have said Bible studiers, prayer warriors, justice advocates.
There could have been any number of things that fit, but what he wanted them thinking about in that final conversation was how they were sent. So we want every week at the Summit Church, we want people to feel that commissioning. They've gathered for just a little bit of time, an hour or so to be sent out as missionaries into the community. A lot of times we'll say that coming to church ought to feel like getting caught up in a spiritual cyclone.
You get pulled in for a little bit just to be thrust back out. And so, Molly, to expand on that and what you heard today on the program, help answer the question of what does it mean for you to be sent, we got a great resource we want to recommend. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus. It's written by a couple of great authors that I've had a chance recently to get more acquainted with their ministry. It comes with very practical instructions about what to do and how you can discover the unique gifting that God has given you and how you can be a person who fulfills your role in being sent. We'd love for you to grab a copy today. As always, if you will just head over to jdgrier.com, you can grab your copy today. Jesus told us to go and make disciples, and that requires us to be intentional about having gospel-centered conversations with the people that God has put in our lives.
So this month we are introducing a great resource to help you do that practically and strategically. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus. We'd love to send you a copy with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry.
To give, call us right now at 866-335-5220 or visit jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vinovich, and I hope that you'll join us again tomorrow as we start a new teaching series through the book of 1 Peter called I Am an Alien. That's right, we're talking about aliens. Well, sort of. Join us right here on Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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