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Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 4, 2024 12:00 am


Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 4, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here:  A group of people working together can accomplish significantly more than when each person works alone. This is synergy. From the Apostle John's third letter from Ephesus, Pastor Davey expounds upon the call for Christians to work together--in synergy--to support each other. Specifically, as John writes, we are obligated to financially provide for the Lord's workers. But more than obligation, giving is our opportunity to joyfully join in the labor to further the Gospel.

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Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
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Alistair Begg
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He's written to Gaius saying, keep up that work. You're doing well. You can translate that beautifully. Beautiful. Keep up that beautiful work.

Keep it up. Why? Because he's worth it. His servants are worth it. The gospel is worth it.

His name is worth it. The church is worth it. Saving souls is worth it.

Discipling believers is worth it. It is the opportunity to give to him all the more glory as he chooses to use us to advance the church around the earth. God uses us to advance his church and the gospel of Jesus Christ around the earth. One of the most effective ways we can serve Christ is by linking arms with our brothers and sisters and working together. We can work together to accomplish specific tasks. We can also provide financial support to those serving on the front lines of ministry in ways that we can't.

A word to describe this kind of partnership is synergy. And that's the title of Stephen's message today. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart.

Stephen Davey is continuing his teaching series from 2nd and 3rd John called Postcards from John. I'll lead us in a prayer and then Stephen will get started. Dear Lord, thank you for your word. And as we study now together, please teach us and show us how to serve you more faithfully.

In Jesus' name, Amen. There's a word that's very popular today. It's in every industry, arts and sciences, every aspect of our busy world. If you look it up, you'll find synergy defined as the combined power of a group of agents working together that is greater than the total power achieved by individual agents working alone. To put it a little more simply, you alone can only accomplish so much. But you and someone else combining your efforts can accomplish so much more. In a word, synergy is teamwork. Synergy is collaboration. There's a very familiar word in this line. It's the word collusion.

You hear a lot about that. Collusion is actually illegal. Synergy is when people work secretly to influence something. It might be the price of a stock on Wall Street.

It might be the sliding under the table of the amount of a bid so a contractor can win it. Or as we hear about every day as it relates to potential political influence. Well, in the spiritual world, the positive side of synergy happens to be the church.

Left alone, none of us could really do all that much. But combined together, we're able to do so much more for the Lord's word. Synergy is disciple making.

It's taking the time to reach and to teach someone. It might seem slow, but in the end, you've doubled your efforts and then tripled your efforts and then quadrupled your efforts. While I'm speaking, I came across this illustration of synergy right in front of you now as I'm speaking to you, as you're listening to me.

At least that's the theory. As I'm speaking, 72 muscles are cooperating in order to produce this speech. It's pretty amazing, isn't it? 72 muscles.

I'm glad to know that I still have 72 muscles cooperating together, but that's what's happening so I can talk to you. Let me give you another illustration on the impact of synergy, which is really disciple making from the world of nature. I came across this. When a female ant goes out to bring back food, she is discovered she'll go back to the ant colony, get a younger ant to go with her to that food source. As the older ant runs along the path to that food, the student, the disciple, you could say it this way, is following behind but will often fall behind because they kind of get distracted. They explore the path on either side.

They make note of the landmarks, identifying them. And that creates a gap between the teacher ant and the disciple ant and the teaching ant has to stop repeatedly and wait. And then each time when the younger ant is ready, it will run forward and tap the teacher on her back legs and off they'll run again and they'll stop again and start again, stopping and starting again and again. As you can imagine, this process is especially tiring to the older ant.

It's kind of like you perhaps trying to make dinner with a three-year-old running around the kitchen or your husband who's there supposedly helping. Well, researchers have observed that if that teacher ant were able to travel by herself, she could travel four times faster, four times faster. The problem is there aren't any student ants learning how to do it. Because of that, she never multiplies her effort which then reduces the potential of the entire colony.

Now get this. Some of these ants in this species for some unknown reason decide to keep doing it by themselves. They actually go back to the colony, sling a young ant onto their back upside down and off they run back to the food stores and then they drop the younger ant off and together they haul the food back. Now it all works faster, however, the young ant isn't able to go back alone because he hasn't explored that path.

He doesn't know where those little milestones are and what that path looks like and so he doesn't know how to get there by himself because he was carried there by an adult upside down. Synergy takes place when one ant multiplies itself into the lives of others and we through disciple making, yes it takes you longer, yes it is laborious, it is time consuming but in the end you have maximized exponentially the potential of the church and you just can't improve on it. This is exactly what's in the mind of an old disciple maker by the name of John. Let's go back to the postcard we're working through.

Third John. We arrive at verse 8 but I want to get a running start so what I want you to do is follow along in the text but I want to read my own amplified paraphrase where I've sort of stuffed all kinds of interpretation in it as we've expanded by way of interpretation the text together. So let me read the paraphrase while you follow along in your text.

Here it goes. My dearly loved friend, you are acting faithfully in all the ways you serve these church workers and especially those whom you've never even met before. They've testified in a church service of your loving hospitality.

Keep on doing such a beautiful job as you care for them just like you would care for God if he showed up at your home. They took the gospel out on the road to tell the world about Jesus, the name above every name and they have been determined not to rely on the financial support of unbelievers. That's where we left off. Now let's unpack his concluding statement on this theme at verse 8. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. This is a powerful statement. Let me reduce it to two key words and then work through it. The first word is ownership. Ownership. Therefore, he writes, we ought to.

And the word John uses for ought is a strong word which refers to a spiritual and moral obligation. This is ours to own. Let me put it this way. We own it, now let's own it.

We own it, now let's own it. In the context here, John is making the case for church, the church to effectively support vocational church workers. These men would be the traveling evangelists and church planters, teachers.

We would refer to them today here at Colonial and beyond as vocational pastors, teachers, staff members, global partners, global staff members who work in other countries around the world. And you need to understand it'd be really easy for us here to just kind of skip over it. Yeah, we know all about that. And miss the radical nature of what he just said because what he's telling them here is something that is not being done. It's early in church history, it will be developed later. In fact, he uses the present tense for this obligation of ownership.

He lets us know this is the standing sense of ownership of the church. You don't suspend this. There are churches by the way today who will start a building program and they will suspend their missions budget. We're just going to stop now you guys. We think you'll be taking care of it. We're going to build this building and then we'll get back to you. You don't suspend this.

You don't stall. You keep it ongoing because you're going to obey this inspired command of John and from Christ to do it 24-7. But this is a radical idea. In fact, in our last session together I mentioned William Carey and I want to go back a little bit for the sake of illustration. He would pioneer in modern days the mission work in India. We know him as the father of modern missions but he asked his four businessmen to hold the ropes so that he could go down into the gold mine of India and they agreed to financially support him and they began this rope holding pledge they carried through for the rest of their lives. But even before William decided to leave for India, God was doing work in his heart toward vocational ministry but there wasn't any such thing.

Certainly for somebody going overseas. So he would study. He would pray with that leather map of the world above his shoe cobbler's workbench and then he'd go preach in the evenings and he began to preach more and more and do itinerate evangelism.

In fact, pastors in his region would comment that their pews were filling up by the efforts of William Carey even though he didn't attend their church. They were reaping the results of his efforts but he was struggling with what we would call today a bivocational challenge. In fact, I read in his biography how a friend of his got onto him one day because his work was lagging. It was literally and physically piling up these pairs of shoes.

He was falling behind. In fact, his friend rebuked him kindly by saying and I quote, you are neglecting your shoe making business. Carey replied and I quote, neglecting my business. My business is to extend the gospel of Christ.

I only make shoes to pay expenses. It wasn't long before William wrote a pamphlet that urged the church with this radical idea of supporting individuals who would give their lives to the ministry. And the name of his booklet was rather long, an inquiry into the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of the heathen. How's that for a book title? It's going to wrap around the entire book.

Well, it became a bestseller and it created a firestorm. What do you mean we've got an obligation? Who are you to tell us, the church, that we've got a moral obligation to win the unsaved around the world?

Where did you come up with that radical idea? Third John, verse 8. In fact, John, as he expands and applies, notice again he says we ought to support such men. He isn't just saying, you know, pray for them, wish them farewell, go to the dock with them, see them off. No, in fact, the word he uses for support is a wonderfully descriptive combination word, hupo lombano.

Hupo means under and lombano means to receive or literally to catch, to catch underneath. We would use the word today in our vernacular to underwrite. When we assume the expenses of these traveling evangelists and preachers and church planters and global workers, we are underwriting them. We are obeying the command of scripture.

Now, it wasn't new entirely with John, but it's new on the scene. The apostles have been hinting at it. Jesus, in fact, introduces the concept to kind of get these believers to think about it because when the church is inaugurated after he ascends and the spirit descends at Pentecost, this is going to become something they're going to need to flesh out.

So Jesus introduces the idea when he sends his disciples out two by two and he tells them wherever you go into the towns and villages, find a home, find people sympathetic to your message, and if they invite you, stay with them. And then he says specifically in Luke 10 and verse 7, stay in that house while you're in that village eating and drinking what they give you for the laborer is worthy of his hire. He's saying they're laboring. Just like you're laboring in the field, they're worthy of compensation. Well, what is that compensation? Feed them.

Give them. And by the way, he tells the disciples, eat and drink what they give you. I couldn't help but remember I mentioned last Lord's Day when my three brothers and I would travel with our missionary parents on deputation. In the summer, we'd visit homes, families and churches that supported our family and we would pull into the driveway of a home around dinner time that we would assume was going to feed us. And so sitting there in the driveway, my mother would remind us, four boys, she would give us that little poem and she'd say, now boys, just remember where he leads me, I will follow and what he feeds me, I will swallow.

And that was the end of it. I mean, I might complain about food at home, not at that table. I might complain about vegetables at home and I might stuff those green peas and squash under the edges of my plate and then I'd run out after dinner before my mother realized it.

In fact, she and I were talking a couple of weeks ago on the phone and reminiscing about what a perfect child I was growing up. I mean, we didn't have a dog. You couldn't feed him that underneath the table.

And so I'd squish it under the plate and take off and she realized that and then went out and bought clear glass plates. What a clever, clever woman she was. What he feeds me, I will swallow. What Jesus is basically doing is supporting the concept of full-time vocational ministry support.

Later on, Paul to the Roman church is going to graciously hint at this. He says, whenever I go to Spain, for I hope to see you in passing and to be helped on my way there by you. What does that mean? That means I need a ticket. And I'm really hoping when I come to see you that you'll pass the plate because I'm not going to get there.

I guess I'm going to enjoy your company too. You see, this is the tension of a global worker. They feel it.

You need to understand this. They can't come right out and ask us for money, but they need it. When you have one in your home, ask them, how you doing? Ask them if they're hungry. You won't believe the many times we went to bed without any food. They didn't think about it.

We got there at eight o'clock. Ask them. They might need a car while they're home for a week. You got to know them sitting in the garage. Ask them. What can we lavish on them?

I had a guy come up to me in the lobby. He loves us. He said, you know, your message last Lord's Day provoked our thinking.

We've got a beach house. And we decided whenever a missionary is in town, they can use it. So I'm going to become a missionary just so you know, by the way, and head there myself.

I said, no, email me about that. I'm going to pass it on to the mobilization team. Wouldn't it be wonderful? Our global workers show up. Here's a week. Here's a weekend.

Go to the coast. He adds to this concept of support. He writes it a little more bluntly to the Corinthians.

They're a little thicker. He says, if we sowed spiritual things in you, is it really too much if we reap material things from you? That's great, isn't it? He hints at his dependency on them in his second letter to the Corinthians. I will pass your way into Macedonia and by you be helped on my journey to Judea.

In other words, I can't get to Judea unless you help me. And he kind of hints at it. Here's something to think about. Not John. Not in this postcard.

I mean, this is where that, you know, a little bit of that son of thunder nickname he'd earned in his younger days sort of comes out. He throws diplomatic speech out the window and dogmatically writes, we ought to support such men. All in favor, say, and everybody's going to say, amen. Not, you know, here's an idea for you to think about. You pray about this. If you feel like it, if you find some loose change, you know, the cup holder at your car, maybe in the cushions in your sofa, that'll be God's answer. It's interesting that the church, in fact, in every generation is slow on the uptake.

I think we're all like Corinth. This is new territory here and in every century the church has had to respond in new and appropriate ways. I found it interesting. I mean, here we are in the 1700s when William Carey is going to leave England for India. The idea of supporting a global worker didn't exist. In fact, there was no mission agency to underwrite him. It didn't exist.

They literally had to create the agency. In fact, when these four businessmen made a pledge to underwrite him, there were church leaders who vocally opposed it. They came out against it as if to say, don't you men know when there's a deal bad enough you ought to run from, you're going to give money to an uneducated or self-educated shoe cobbler.

Are you out of your mind? They wouldn't know. One rather well-known pastor in that day in London wrote publicly, sort of excoriating them for the idea. And he said of these men that were surrounding William Carey, he said, quote, they are nothing more than a nest of consecrated cobblers. In other words, they're just a bunch of shoe menders.

You're going to waste your money. I'm not going to tell you the name of that pastor because you wouldn't know him. You've never heard of him. And the only way I know of him is because his name was mentioned in the biography of William Carey.

I don't want to be like him. On one occasion, William Carey got up to preach and somebody had hung a pair of old shoes in the pulpit so that he'd see them when he came in to mock him. And he very graciously took those old shoes and he held them up and he said, let this be a demonstration to you that if God can use a shoe cobbler like me, he can use every one of you. John essentially says we all play a part. We got to take ownership of it because God's commissioned to us. We own it. Now let's own it. Second word comes to my mind is the word opportunity.

It isn't just ownership out of obligation. It's a sense of grasping the opportunity. Look at the last part of verse 8, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. The term fellow worker is the word sunergos. It gives us our transliterated word that set me on this theme, synergy. We are synergistically working with them and with the truth. When you pray for them, when you write a letter of encouragement to them, when you share a meal with them, when you give me your car or your bedroom or your home or you built that money into your recurring gifts or you bring money together on the Lord's Day, my money isn't going to do much by itself, but your money with mine and your money with theirs and theirs and theirs and theirs, all of a sudden it adds up.

Wow. Does it add up? What an opportunity we have as we synergistically relate to that which is the truth. This is our opportunity and this is something that we own, which means that God has to do a work on our heart because we know how we feel. I mean, we know how we feel at tax time.

Man, it's another check. Praise God for that one I gave away. You know, you love those things.

During the year, maybe not so much. Maybe we're like that little girl I read about recently where she, her mother was trying to teach her, you know, this idea of giving generously and joyfully. So her mother gave her a dollar bill and a quarter on their way to church and she said to her daughter, now you get to decide. You can either give the dollar or you can give the quarter.

It's entirely your decision. So on the way home after church, the mother asked her daughter what she decided to do and she said, well, at first I decided to give the dollar, but then the pastor said God loves a cheerful giver. I knew I'd be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I gave the quarter. Look, let me tell you this. You don't automatically outgrow that, but you can't outrun it.

You can't outrun it if you obey this kind of command and you take ownership and then you run with the joy of opportunity saying, Lord, let's do more. Let's do more. So the text here asks us two primary questions first. Are we developing a sense of synergy? In fact, he writes to the Corinthians, we are fellow workers with God.

I mean, try that one on. He uses the same word John uses. We are synergistically at work with God, not just the truth, not just that person, not just that church, but with God. Are we developing a sense of synergy?

Are we developing a spirit of generosity? He's written to Gaius saying, keep up that work. You're doing well. You could translate that beautifully. Beautiful. Keep up that beautiful work.

Keep it up. Why? Because he's worth it. His servants are worth it. The gospel is worth it.

His name is worth it. The church is worth it. Saving souls is worth it.

Discipling believers is worth it. It is the opportunity to give to him all the more glory as he chooses to use us to advance the church around the world. I hope this time in God's word here on Wisdom for the Hearts has encouraged and challenged you today. It's God's desire that all of us would work together to accomplish his will. And that's why Stephen called this lesson Synergy. That's true no matter who we are or where we are. Stephen Davey is the president of Wisdom International. From the very beginning of this ministry, Stephen has said that we are empowered by prayer.

We're convinced that that's true. Our desire is to provide Bible teaching resources that are faithful to scripture. As God's word goes forth, the Spirit of God takes the truth of his word and uses it to bring about true and lasting change. I invite you to join our global prayer team and pray for us. You'll find information about the global prayer team at forward slash prayer.

Each week we pray for a country where our messages are being heard and please join us. We also want to pray for you. We have a team of people who pray for the requests that come in. Whenever you have a prayer need you can go online and submit your prayer request and like I just said, someone will pray for you by name. That website includes a way for you to send us your prayer needs. Learn more about this at forward slash prayer. Our email address is info at You can send your comments or questions to us, write to us today. I'm Scott Wiley and for Steven and all of us here at Wisdom International, thanks for joining us here on Wisdom for the Heart. We'll be right back.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-04 00:44:01 / 2024-03-04 00:53:47 / 10

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