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The Challenge of the Harvest

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
September 28, 2020 10:36 am

The Challenge of the Harvest

The Verdict / John Munro

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September 28, 2020 10:36 am

Dr. John H. Munro September 27, 2020 Matthew 9:35-10:15

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It seems to me that more and more pulpits are sounding like CNN or Fox News, and in so doing they are marginalizing the Gospel, if not ignoring the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ commands us, as recorded in Matthew 28, to go and make disciples of all the nations. And while Christians have always been concerned with social justice, and rightly so, and while Christians should and have in the past been involved in the political process, the greatest need of our country – can I remind you of this? – the greatest need in our country, in fact the greatest need in our world, is not whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump is going to be elected president, the greatest need of our country here in the United States of America and throughout the world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is our greatest need. And I say that because as we come up to election, I fear that many of us, including followers of Jesus Christ, we're becoming a bit distracted. We may be putting our faith in a particular man, in a particular woman, rather than in the living God.

And of course we're concerned, and rightly so, who should be the next president, who should be the next Supreme Court justice. All of these things are very, very important, but can I remind you of the words of the Apostle Paul in the first century? For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who hears, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. That was said in the first century, I'm repeating it here and now, that we should never be ashamed of the Gospel.

Why? It is the greatest power in all of the universe. It's the only power that can save souls. It's the only power that can deliver someone from the bondage of darkness and translate them into the wonderful, marvelous, unending light of the Kingdom of God.

Isn't that marvelous? That God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. A simple message, a message that many of us learned at our mother's knee as it were, a message that we teach our children, a message I preach from this pulpit because it is only that message that can forgive guilty sinners. And therefore, we must never compromise the truth of the Gospel.

We must never try and change the message of the cross of Christ to make it, as it were, more user-friendly and to have a message that makes people feel good about themselves. This message, the life-transforming message of the Gospel is so powerful, it is so important, it is so vital, it is so life-changing that everyone in the world must hear that Jesus saves, that there is salvation in no one else. This is the highest name, the name of Jesus. And we're going to hear the words of Jesus this morning. If you have your Bible, I encourage you to turn to Matthew chapter 9. If you're visiting, if you're here for the first time, let me say that we are consecutively going through the Gospel of Matthew, that our commitment at Calvary is to the exposition of the Word of God.

My calling is to glorify God through the exposition of His Word. So we're going verse by verse, chapter by chapter as it were, through this magnificent Gospel and learning so much from the very words of Jesus as we have here recorded. And first we're going to read Matthew 9, verses 35 through 38. Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Do you get the picture? Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He looks out at the crowds and Matthew records here in verse 36, He had compassion for them.

Why was that? They were harassed, they were helpless, they were like sheep without a shepherd. Don't know where they're going, lost, can't find their way home, helpless sheep. And as Jesus looks on them, He has compassion for them. He's already said that we are to enter by the narrow gate and to seize the crowds and they are on that broad road which leads to destruction. When you see people, when you see the crowds, perhaps at a football game, masses of crowds gather together.

Even when you look out in your neighborhood, you see people walking, doing their business. Do you have compassion for them? I mean, does it move you to think that these are people without Christ? John Milton in his famous Paradise Lost has a brilliant line. He says, the hungry sheep look up and are not fed. Hungry sheep harass sheep, helpless sheep and there is no one to feed them.

There is no one to tell them the life-changing message of the Kingdom of God. Don't you think that's true here in the United States? I realize many people profess the name of Jesus but isn't it true that our nation, the greatest country, the most powerful country in the world, with all of its privileges that we have from our founding fathers to this day, isn't it true that our nation is falling further and further away from our biblical roots?

What's the problem? Yes, there may be economic problems, there may be COVID, there may be all kinds of social injustices, but the basic problem is a spiritual one, isn't it? We have largely forgotten God.

Crowds harassed and helpless. You see, this is the challenge of the harvest. We must share our faith.

Now what are we to do? Jesus tells us, first, pray. Pray for Christ's followers to be sent into the harvest. Isn't that what Jesus says when He sees the crowds without a shepherd? Verse 37, He says, the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. The problem is not with the harvest. The harvest, says Jesus, is plentiful. There are many, many sheep.

It's not a problem with the harvest. I remember as a little boy, 10, 11 years old, we lived quite close to us. There was a farm of, there was a raspberry farm, and I don't know if you've picked raspberries, but the farmer, we were told, was looking for people to pick his raspberries. And so my older brother, my younger brother and I, found ourselves at the farm along with some other children, in fact some adults. And it became very obvious, listening to the farmer, that there were so many raspberries ready to be picked that he didn't have enough to harvest them. And we could see them, these plump raspberries.

Not so much because of the Scottish sun, but because of an abundant rain, and they were swallowing. And they came, if you've ever picked raspberries, you like them like that, just ready to be picked because they come so easy off the husk. If the raspberry is not ripe, it keeps sticking to the husk. And the farmer doesn't want the husk, he wants the fruit. And so we would come and, with our little fingers, pick these raspberries, put them into a basket, and present them to the farmer. And the more we picked, the more we got paid. The harvest is plentiful.

That's the picture. The picture is of the farmer looking out at his crop and it is plentiful. It's abundant. Abundant raspberries.

Beautiful wheat as it were, waiting to be harvested. Oh, the problem is not with the harvest. Do you have a problem that you don't have enough people to share Christ with? Is there a problem that we don't have enough opportunities to tell people about Jesus Christ?

That's not the problem. Think of all the opportunities we have at Calvary Church to display and proclaim Jesus. Our first responsibility is to display Jesus. That as people look at us, as they get to know us, they see something of the love of Christ, something of the grace of Christ, something of the patience of Christ. So you're at work, you're trying to impact your colleagues for Christ, how important it is that you're kind, that you're patient, that you're helpful. You're trying to reach your neighbors, how important it is that they see that you are trying to love them as you love yourself. First we display Christ and then as God gives us opportunities, we proclaim and we tell people about it.

And we can say the harvest is plentiful. Do you know that hundreds, yes hundreds, of children, students, adults come onto our campus? Not just coming on a Sunday, but through Champ Sports. Thank you to those of you who serve in that important ministry. Do you know that hundreds of families come onto the campus at Calvary during the week with our Child Development Center? Yes, literally hundreds of children.

And many of them, whether it's Champ Sports or whether it's Child Development Center, are coming from unchurched homes. Many of them are lost. Do you see them? Do you see the people?

Do you have compassion for them? As Jim Caswell, our pastor of missions said on the Calvary Connect, we have 82 missionary units in 40 countries. It's wonderful, isn't it? That here at Calvary in the ups and downs of the life of Calvary, I think it's fair to say that we've stood steadfast in putting a focus on missions, in our finances, in sending out missionaries throughout the world. The harvest is plentiful. Our radio ministry, the verdict is having more and more stations.

Here in the United States, Eastern Africa, in my native Scotland, we have abundant, yes abundant opportunities to go into the jails and prisons of North and South Carolina. We have the opportunity to bring the Gospel to young women who are considering having an abortion. Think of all of our neighborhoods as we're being challenged by Be-A-Lite. Literally thousands of neighborhoods we are impacting through the life and ministry of Calvary Church.

The harvest is plentiful. What is it in our city and in our metroplex? I love living in Charlotte. I've never lived in a place so long as I've been in Charlotte now for almost 15 years. And one of the many reasons I love living in Charlotte is that we have people from all over the world. Now I love Southerners, still trying to get used to grits and some other of their strange habits. I love Southerners, no disrespect to them, but it's wonderful that God in His grace brings people from all over the world right to our doorsteps.

And the vast majority of them have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had a flavor of that, didn't we, this morning with some of our different nations, to hear that little girl sing in Spanish, Romanian, Polish, from the Philippines, Telugu. So, boo, I don't know what he was singing. I mean, I thought, praise God, we've got the bagpipes this morning tuning up. But isn't it, isn't it, seriously, isn't it incredible? Isn't it incredible here at Calvary Church we have many, many nations. And I want to remind you that our Lord Jesus Christ transcends all boundaries, transcends all nations, all colors of skins, all ethnicities, that every single person, whoever you are, wherever they come from, whether they look like you and sound like you or whether they're completely different, that every single one of them needs to hear about Jesus Christ. So don't resent them.

Don't say, who are they to come to our beautiful city? They look different. They respond different.

Some of them drive very differently, let me tell you. See it through the eyes of Jesus. Sheep without a shepherd. The harvest is plenty.

I find that tremendously exciting. Could you imagine being in a community, a small community which is never changing rather than a large community like Charlotte which is growing where people not just from overseas but throughout every state, people come here, people from Canada, you name it, they come here right to your doorstep. Some of you live right next door to them and God in His grace, in His sovereign purposes has brought this person to you and I'm saying this is the challenge of the harvest. Do you see them?

Do you see them? Will you build bridges to them? You say, what do you mean build a bridge? A personal connection.

You say, I don't know what that is. God will give it to you. Some bridge to that person. To show them the love of Christ, to engage them at some level, to relate to them where they are. I read that between 80 and 90 percent of new converts are initially contacted within the context of their daily life.

Do you hear that? Most people come to Jesus Christ because they meet someone like you and me who lives their faith and tells their faith. Yes, people come to Christ through mass crusades, through radio, through television, to all kinds of ways, but most people come to saving faith through that personal context.

Many of you came to Christ because someone told you about Jesus. Will you reach out to them? Your family? That's a tough one, isn't it? A tough one. You say, wow, they're resistant.

Reach out to them. And that person at work, that colleague, perhaps that colleague that you find a little difficult, that boss who seems to be inflexible, that person you just meet casually, pray. What Jesus is saying is this, so important, the problem is not with the harvest. Do not blame the harvest.

Do not say, I don't have enough opportunities to tell people about Jesus Christ. There is an abundant harvest, a plentiful harvest, but there's a problem. Notice what Jesus says, verse 37, the harvest is plentiful but, here's the problem, the laborers are few.

Yes, there are many enthusiastic followers of Jesus Christ going into the harvest. I trust that many of you are doing that, but many of us are not. We're muted. We saw last week the man who was mute, that's what the devil does. He tries to stop us. He tries to silence us. He tries to create fear within us.

He tries to say, well that's for someone else. We need to be mobilized. We must meet the challenge which God is bringing to us. Where do we start?

What do I begin to do? Do I need to be part of a committee? Do we need to strategize? Take a course on evangelism? All of these things are important. All of these things have their place, and we do these things at Calvary. The first thing, however, Jesus says is pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

I was challenged when I was studying this. Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest. This is not just praying for people from Calvary Church to go out overseas missions. We do pray for that, and it's a joy when, particularly when people within our own community are called by God and they're thrust out into the harvest. It's a great prayer, but Jesus is thinking of something else. Pray for yourself. Pray that each one of us, who is an authentic follower of Jesus Christ, would tell others about him. I'm asking you, Jesus is asking you to pray earnestly.

Will you do that? Will you pray earnestly that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers, yes, from Calvary Church into his harvest? Pray. Turn to Colossians chapter 4, where we see Paul really saying the same thing, and I think is in a very helpful passage as we think of going into the harvest. Colossians 4 verse 2, he's talking to new believers now.

Probably most of them have less biblical knowledge, theological knowledge than you have. So at early church, notice what he says, Colossians 4, to continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open the door to us for the door for the Word to declare the mystery of Christ on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Isn't that interesting? Paul is asking for prayer that God will open a door for the Word to declare the mystery of Christ. Are you praying for new doors to be opened? You say, I'm not quite sure where I begin here. Yes, I've spoken to my family, how the Word will enable. I'm not sure how to proceed. Pray that God will open a door for you and for Calvary.

Just think of it. What new doors is God opening for us here at Calvary Church in your neighborhood? That neighbor that seems totally unreachable. Pray that God will open a door for that person. Pray that God will open a door for you in your sphere of influence, your family, your friends, your work. All of us contact people.

You contact people. You know people that may never come to Calvary, that I can't speak to, that Zebu can't speak to, but you can. Pray that the door will be opened and pray for new ways of penetrating and engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notice Paul says, verse 5, walk in wisdom toward outsiders. That's the unbeliever.

That's the sheep that's harassed. Wise. Be wise.

Sometimes as followers of Jesus, we're not wise. We shout. We protest.

We're angry. Don't do that. Walk in wisdom. Pray for God to give you wisdom as you try and reach that person.

Perhaps you've got a brother or sister that lives on the other end of the world and you have to call them or you have to email them. Pray for wisdom before you do that, that God would give you the right words. Be wise. Respect the integrity of each individual.

Remember, you're talking not to a project, not to tick a little box, not to boast of how many people you spoke to. Think of that person, an individual for whom Christ died. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders. What is wisdom? Skill in living. Be skilled at this.

This is why we need God's help. And notice that our speech should always be gracious, verse 6, that you can get that seasoned with salt. So that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Now this is not just one, two, three, four that I mechanically repeat as I contact this person. I build a bridge to this person. I've got a beginning of a friendship. There's some mutual respect. I'm beginning to develop a friendship with this person and then I need gracious speech.

How do I contact, how do I communicate to this person? You see the Lord with Nicodemus. Very different approach to the woman, the Samaritan woman, the immoral woman in John chapter 4. Our Lord Jesus, of course, is perfect wisdom. He always met people at their point of need. Now He knew their hearts, we don't.

But that's the goal, isn't it? That we would meet the person at their point of need. Walk in wisdom. Have speech seasoned with salt and pray that doors will open. Notice that it's a door for the Word. It's not just for a door to be kind to people.

We certainly must be kind. It's not just a door for social change, although that may well be necessary. It's a door for the Word. It's a door for the Gospel. This is our priority, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the message entrusted to us and Jesus is saying, pray. Pray. Pray for Christ followers to be sent into the harvest. But don't only pray. Secondly, go depending on Jesus, King Jesus alone, verses 1 through 8 of chapter 10.

You've got your Bibles there? Matthew chapter 10 verse 1, and He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to cast them out to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these.

First, Simon, who's called Peter, Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee, John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out instructing them, go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proclaim as you go saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.

You received without paying, give without pay. First, as I look at the harvest, I'm to pray. Secondly, I'm to go, and I'm to go depending on King Jesus alone.

I'm to go by faith. Now, we see in these verses, verse one, that Jesus called to him the twelve. It is Jesus who does the calling. They didn't volunteer, Jesus called them. We thought of their calling more recently, we thought of the call of Matthew. Jesus chose the twelve disciples.

Follow me. And as we go, the wonderful, when people then hear the call of Jesus. These disciples have been called by Jesus, they've spent time with Jesus, they've listened to his words, they've sat on the hillside listening to his teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. They've spent time with him, they've witnessed his, his miracles like the coming of the sea. And now, he's saying now, I've called you, I've trained you, equipped you, you've seen me in action, now you've to go out and proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. They had spent time with Jesus.

Oswald Sanders says, we slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him. As we're talking about going and sharing our faith, I have to pause and ask you, do you know Christ? I mean, a personal relationship with Christ. I know you know about Jesus Christ, but the Gospel is knowing Christ.

It's having a relationship with Christ and Sanders is so right. And sometimes people want to serve, it's good, but first, we must know Christ as our Lord and our Savior to be saved by His grace and have spent time listening to Him. And can I say, as we go, as we go sharing our faith, as we're being a light, it is essential that we never ever neglect our time listening to Jesus. Yes, we do that from this pulpit.

We do that in our life groups. We do that in our Bible studies. But you, whoever you are, you must spend time every day in this book, listening to Jesus. You know, if you've never really studied the Gospels, it's a great place to begin. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We're going through Matthew relatively slowly, I understand, but read the Gospel. Saturate yourself with the voice of Jesus. See Jesus in action. Understand His death, His burial, and His resurrection. So, the disciples are called by Jesus. They spend time with Jesus. They see Him in action, and now they are being sent out.

Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Did you notice as I read the names that the names seem to be paired? Simon and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew. Mark says in his account in Mark 6, verse 7, they were sent out two by two.

That's encouraging, isn't it? As we go out, we want to encourage one another, pray for one another, share the successes and the failures. And who is He sending out? Who are these men? Perfect men, wonderful, trained, have their faith all together.

No they don't. In fact, Jesus told them in chapter 8 that their faith was little. Oh you of little faith. Men of little faith being sent out. As we read the Gospels, we understand that these disciples often were very slow learners. It took a while for them to get the point. Jesus had to repeat it several times. Their hearts were hardened. These disciples who followed Jesus sometimes had ego problems. They wanted to know who was the greatest. These disciples sometimes argued among themselves. Sound familiar? Do you think you've got to be this perfect Christian, understanding all your theology, have your apologetics all in view, memorized half the Bible, and then you go out?

No, not at all. That is not what we have in the Gospels. That's not what we have in the book of Acts. What we have is this, that those who truly know Christ from that moment, they're witnesses for Jesus Christ. Of course we should be trained.

Of course we should be helped and prayed for. But we who have had this meeting with Christ long to share it with others. And now they're to do the same as Jesus did. What did He preach? The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Exactly the same message.

What did He do? Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers. That's exactly what they do. And of course they have unique apostolic authority. The characteristic of a true apostle was signs and wonders, 2 Corinthians 12 verse 12. There are people today who call themselves apostles. They're not apostles. They can't raise the dead.

They can't heal the leper. They had the very power of Christ within us, within them as they went. What were they doing? They were moving from theory to practice.

They were moving from observation to application. And this is what we must do. This is the challenge of the harvest. One of our strong points at Calvary can also be one of our weak points. You say, what do you mean John? Well one of our strong points at Calvary is we focus on the Word of God. We want people to know the Word of God. When you come, you don't want me to give political commentary, I hope. You don't want to talk about what's going on in our world.

You certainly don't want some little inspirational message that when it's tough, the tough get going and all of that kind of claptrap. No, you want the meat of the Word. You want to be in the Scriptures.

That's good. So we have life groups that teach the Word. We have Bible studies. We have biblical counselors. We emphasize the Word of God. That's a strength.

But if it stays there, it's a failure. The goal is not so that we get fat heads, full of biblical and theological knowledge so that we can answer all of the questions. These disciples are with Jesus, the perfect teacher. They're learning from Jesus. They're being equipped by Jesus. But the goal is to send them out into the harvest. There's an abundance of sheep.

They're harassed and they're helpless. And Jesus is one person. And so He's saying, now it's time for you to go out and to do what I am doing.

Send out and commission. Go and make disciples of all the nations. It's comfortable, isn't it, learning the Bible? I like to learn the Bible. I don't know how many classes, courses I've gone in the Bible in my life through seminary and through other things. I love to study. In a sense, I do every day.

I love it. But it's easy to stay in a Christian bubble, isn't it? It's comfortable in a Christian bubble, unless you're with boring people. But I mean, if you're wise, you have people you like in your bubble. And it's great. You have fellowship, you learn together, and you argue together, and it's very good.

But that's not the biblical pattern. It's time you got out of your bubble. It's time you got out of the nest, as it were, like a mother bird pushing the little birds out of the nest. Time to fly.

Time to go. You say, that's fearful. Among unbelievers, that's true.

That's the goal. But remember, they're helpless, they're harassed. And Jesus is saying, for you to go into the harvest. And think of the example of the disciples. They were nothing special in and of themselves, were they? They were 12 very ordinary men. They were a very unlikely bunch to be entrusted with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's face it, you and I wouldn't have, if we'd been doing the interviewing, I would have rejected a number of them.

Wouldn't you? I mean, in all honesty. I mean, think of who they were. But they were called by Jesus, this is key, they were called by Jesus not on the basis of what they were, but what with His power they would become. Key in being a disciple. The disciples were called by Jesus not on the basis of what they were, they weren't the great religious leaders in Israel. They weren't the most educated.

They certainly didn't have it all together. Jesus called them not based on what they were, but what with His power, with His equipping, they would become. This is the transformation of the gospel.

Do you understand that? As you follow Christ, you're transformed. And I've seen it in my life with God taking the most unlikely people and I think, who is this? What can they do in evangelism? What could they do in children's ministry?

What could they do in music? And God in His grace is a miracle. He takes ordinary people like you and me and transforms them into His very image. And this is key to being an authentic follower of Jesus. I find it very encouraging, don't you?

Don't you find this encouraging? Jesus knew their faults, their weaknesses, their doubts. He knew that Thomas would doubt. He knew that Jesus, that Peter would deny Him.

He knew that they would all abandon Him, but He calls them. And in the sovereign purposes of God, this unlikely bunch, this motley crew of it, you were, other than Judas, become the very foundation of the church of Jesus Christ. Paul says that in Ephesians 2, verse 20, that the church is built on the prophets and the apostles, these unlikely men.

Think of them with a different personality. Think of Peter. He's mentioned first in verse 2, always when the disciples are listed, Peter is mentioned first. He's the rock. He's the leader.

It's Peter that preaches on Pentecost. Great man, but leaders are sometimes impulsive. Leaders sometimes speak too much. Leaders sometimes are overconfident.

Leaders sometimes think too much of themselves and speak too quickly. That's Peter. Then there's Andrew it says, verse 2, Andrew.

He is the brother of Peter, but he is, as it were, in the shadows of Peter, probably a bit introverted. We have in Scotland, he is the patron saint in Andrew. Irish have chosen Patrick, a non-biblical character. We choose one of the disciples, Andrew. And I've got the Scottish flag to show you because in the Scottish flag, the cross is the St. Andrew's cross. The legend is, don't think it's true, that Andrew went to Scotland, went to this town that we call St. Andrew's, or that some relic of Andrew supposedly ended up in St. Andrew's, but in any event, whatever the reason, he is the patron saint of Scotland.

He is an individual who is quiet, who is in the shadows, who keeps his opinion to himself, is very sensitive to others, a very humble individual and you can understand that that typifies the average Scot, so we call Andrew a patron saint. But as you read the Gospels, Peter is a great preacher to the crowds, but Andrew is the individual who quietly brings people to Jesus. Many of you are like that, you'll never be on this pulpit, but you have a wonderful gift, a winsome way of speaking to people.

My wife can do this. Yeah, I've got more of the answers, but often the person listens more to my wife who, in a quiet way, wins them over and points them to Christ. Then there's James and John, verse 2, they're the fishermen.

They're the sons of thunder. I mean, they're a bit volatile. A volatile disciple?

Wouldn't you want to eliminate that? No, says Jesus, I'm calling James and John. And then there's Thomas, verse 3. I mean, I don't like being around Thomas. You know the pessimistic kind of individual? They're always doubting.

You're about to do an exciting project and they give you ten reasons why it won't work. I mean, that's Thomas. He's a pessimist, a doubter, a skeptic. He's the one who, when he doesn't see the resurrected Christ, he says, I will never believe unless I see the marks and nails in his hands and his feet. A doubter?

A skeptic? But he's also the one who says of the resurrected Christ, my Lord and my God. There's a Thomas. Then there's Matthew. I talked to him the other Sunday, a former tax collector, sold himself out to the Romans, made a dubious living collecting taxes and ripping people off. But now he's following Jesus.

That's Matthew. Then, verse 4, there's Simon the Zealot. What's the zealot? He's a revolutionary. He's a nationalist. He hates the Romans. They're plotting against Roman occupation.

He's the individual that's got the concealed weapon. And before being called by Jesus, he would have put a knife to the throat of Matthew, a man who's a Jew, and then he sells out to the Romans. They would never, ever be together, but now both are called to be servants of Jesus. And then, of course, there's Judas. Mark says, verse 4, the one who betrayed him, a false disciple. I wonder if there's any Judases here.

You slipped in. You can say the right thing, but your faith isn't authentic. I trust not. I trust that you are a true follower of Jesus. Now notice, these 12 are solely dependent on King Jesus.

Verses 9 through 15, and we'll cover this very quickly. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff where the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who's worthy in it and stay there until you depart.

As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it's not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive your listening to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave the house or town. Truly I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

What's the point? As they go, they are to totally trust God. It's in faith.

As you, as you're a light, what's the lesson? Totally trust Jesus. You're totally dependent upon King Jesus. Now they're instructed first, verses 5 and 6, to go to the lost sheep of the house of – the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew is presenting Jesus as the King of the Jews. And we know that historically, the Gospel goes first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. That's Romans 1, verse 16. And so they are not to go to the Samaritans, we read. They're not to go to Gentile territory, but they're first to go to Israel. First, being a light in your own home, in your own neighborhood, in your own people. Who would God have to evangelize your family?

He can use anyone He wants. He's going to use you to tell a family member about Jesus. You see, I'd love to be a missionary in China. I hear there's a great need for the Gospel in China, there certainly is. But have you shared Christ in your own neighborhood?

Why would you be concerned about China when you've not yet begun in your own neighborhood, in your own street, among your own colleagues at work, among your fellow students at college, starting first? Oh, Jesus is going to command the disciples wonderfully, to go and make disciples of all the nations. That's true. But here first, as they begin, they're to go to the lost house of Israel, and they're to travel light. They're to live by faith, depending solely on Jesus.

They're not to be motivated by money. Jesus promises that all of their needs will be supplied. Some of you have Philippines 4.19 as one of your favorite verses. My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.

We sometimes take that out of context, but let me tell you this. As you go by faith, as you are a light, as you share your faith, Jesus Christ will give you all of the power, all of the words, all of the help that you need. What are you to do? You're to step out in faith.

You're to trust Him. We saw the other Sunday, faith dispels fear. What is the greatest problem in evangelizing, in sharing your faith? Fear. We're, we're afraid.

Yes, we can be lazy, but most of us, there's a fear, a fear of rejection, a fear of not knowing, a fear of someone will ask a question that we don't know, a fear of embarrassment, a fear of rejection. Any many fears, put them aside and trust Christ. Divine power and divine provision for the divine mission of sharing our faith.

There it is. You will have divine power, God's power, God's provision for the divine mission of sharing your faith. Is this a divine mission? Yes, Jesus is saying, do it. Pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. Go to the lost sheep of Israel. Now as you go, you're excited to go, you say, I may be rejected. Yes, I can guarantee some people will reject you. You know that.

Did you notice the last two words? If someone doesn't listen to your words, not listen to an apostle, that's true. They can do miracles. They can do things that you can do, you can't do.

They can raise the dead and still people will not believe. Some of them will reject you and they'll be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah for that time. Judgment is coming. Don't think you have failed because someone rejects you. We'll see next week the rejected Christ, the rejected the apostles, and some are going to reject you. Some people you think are going to listen to you are going to reject you. Some people that you think are not going to listen to you will listen to you. It's all in the sovereign purposes of God.

You see, meeting the challenge of the harvest means that we leave the consequences to the Lord. That's not my worry. I'm not a salesman. I can save more people than you are. What's your score? Oh, this month five. Oh, I did ten. What about you?

No. We're not sales people. We're displaying Christ. We're proclaiming Christ with wisdom, with grace, with the power of God, and leaving God to do the saving, to realize that judgment will come on those who reject Christ. When I was a student at Emory University, I think it was about twenty, I went for one summer with what was called Scottish Counties Evangelistic Movement.

We called it SCEM. And we would go to a town, normally a small town in Scotland, where there was no church or certainly no evangelical church, or a church that was very small, or a church that was very dead. And we would meet generally, we stayed in a school, and in the mornings, we'd time a prayer, we'd have time in the word, a time of encouragement, time of being equipped in the afternoons. Most of us went door to door. We also had meetings for children. In the evening, we'd invite people in for a gospel meeting, for an evangelistic meeting as the evangelist would preach.

And after that, we might still go out, go to a coffee bar or a pub and tell people about Jesus. As we went door to door, we went out by twos, two men or two women. And so I went, I remember for a whole week, I was with a young man, same age as I was, Finley Bisset.

Unlike me, Finley had come from a totally non-Christian home. He'd never heard the gospel, totally unchurched, never gone to church. And one Sunday evening, he told me, he told the whole group, he said one Sunday evening, he was walking the streets of Glasgow, really going to a place of entertainment, a bar or something like, a club or something like that.

Young man looking for some action, as it were, restless in his own spirit. And he's walking, and a miracle took place. Two miracles were going to take place. The first miracle was that a man at the door of the church stopped Finley and said to him, would you like to come into a church service?

I mean, what self-respecting 20-year-old Scotsman goes, who's never been in a church, goes to a church on a Sunday evening? And Finley said, I don't know what it was. He said, I felt I needed to go and hear what was being said. And so he found himself in a church. And the man stood up and presented the gospel of Jesus Christ. Finley had never heard it in his life. And the second miracle took place, that he surrendered his life to Christ.

It's wonderful. Here he was, I think about a year later, nine months or so, a recent convert to Jesus Christ, not having the background I had, not having the privileges I had growing up, but there he was, and if anyone was on fire for Jesus Christ it was Finley Bissett. And so we would go door to door. And going door to door in Scotland is hard. Most people don't want to speak to you, close the door. They make gestures which are not very helpful. They say things that are not very kind, but from time to time someone would stop and would present the gospel.

Remember as if it were yesterday, a woman being very nasty, closing the door and saying, I don't want to hear that stuff. And as we're walking from the house, Finley was very, very serious. I said to him, Finley, what are you thinking? And he said, John, isn't there somewhere in the Bible talk about a great white throne? I said, yeah, it's Revelation 20, the great white throne. And he said, doesn't it say that those whose names are not written in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire?

And I said, yeah, that's right. He said, here we are, and they're rejecting the gospel. He couldn't believe it, because it was such good news to him. As a young man, he knew he was a sinner. He knew there was something wrong in his life, and when he heard the gospel, he embraced Christ and was dramatically saved. That's wonderful, but that doesn't always happen.

Isn't that right? People reject it. And Jesus is saying to the disciples, judgment is coming for them. And so I don't want you, brothers and sisters, to be discouraged when people reject the message.

It happens. What are we learning? Pray for the harvest.

Few laborers. What are we to do? Two things. You're to pray, and you're to go. Will you do that? That's easy.

Easy to remember. What's the message? Pray and go. Our mission is being and making authentic followers of Jesus Christ. Will you personally accept the challenge of the harvest, whatever it means to you? Now we have, as was said in Calvary Connect, and I'll say again to you, we have Be A Light. We have a slide on that. And we heard that we have ongoing training, I think, at next stage beginning in October 10, that you can sign up for this with Pastor Sabu.

What's the focus? It's being a light in your neighborhood. But you're going to learn principles that will help you, not just in your neighborhood, but beyond your neighborhood. But we're going to begin praying for those in our neighborhood so that God in His grace will lead you to someone who needs Jesus Christ. You can register. You can call, speak to Sabu and get more information about it.

All of the equipping, all of the training that you need will be given to you, and you can register on the website for the October training. Would you see, would you see as you lift your eyes to the harvest? What's the harvest? Did you see a neighbor? Someone at work? A family member?

Who do you see? Pray that God will use you to tell people that neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. And present the magnificent Christ to our needy world.

Will you do that? Father, help us. Sometimes we're lazy. Sometimes we're fearful.

Sometimes we leave it to others. And so I pray that your Spirit will touch our hearts, and that we will respond in faith with courage. And use us, Father, for a mighty revival in this community. May it be so for your honor and glory. In Christ's name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-26 09:13:50 / 2024-02-26 09:32:17 / 18

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