I’ve seen many people die. I don’t mean in any gruesome way but just in terms of the natural course of old age or cancer. Most of them were committed Christians and I can say of them what John Wesley often and joyfully declared, “Our people die well!”
Indeed, when I’ve seen how well they can die, how unafraid and triumphant they are when they face the last enemy, I am fortified afresh to testifying to the sufficiency of Christ’s works for me.
“As long as I am still something, Jesus Himself cannot be everything. My life must be expelled, then the life of the Spirit of Jesus will flow in.” -Andrew Murray
The most important thing an everyday missionary does is look to God, not ourselves, no matter, to fulfill His mission for us.
One way we do this is through prayer. Prayer admits that our best planning and plotting are not enough for God’s mission. How would God have us engage?
As we pursue missions, we pray for five things:
- We pray for those to whom God sends us.
- We pray for Spirit-led discernment.
- We pray that God emoldens us.
- We pray that God softens hearts.
- We pray that God draws people to Himself.
The doctrine of the fall, with all of its dire consequences, shines with awful clarity in Scripture: Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”
The effect of the fall was shame, the never-failing companion of sin. “They knew they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Their peace and purity were gone.
The effect of the fall was the darkness of the mind. “Adam and his wife hid from the presence of the Lord…” (3:8).
The effect of the fall was slavish fear. When God asked Adam why he hid, he replied, “I was afraid” (3:10). They were now afraid to look upon God whose presence was their heaven and joy.
The effect of the fall was to refuse responsibility or to repent (3:12).
Jesus hung on a cross for three hours before the sky got dark for another three hours. Jesus’ first words from the cross were a prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus died praying for others. What he preached about in terms of loving enemies on a hillside in Galilee, he practiced on a cross on Golgotha.
Sure, leaders are often characterized by the period. “Go here. Do that.” Others are better characterized by the exclamation point, expressing enthusiasm and optimism. But the best leaders, especially Jesus, are characterized by a symbol that is bent in humility: the question mark. Jesus was always asking questions. The gospels record over 100 from him.
If you want to be a better leader, ask more questions than just giving blunt answers.
God’s giving always follows His forgiving. God does more than pardon us, if pardoning is simply the non-infliction of penalty. God does more than that! He loves!
That’s what makes the parable of the Prodigal Son so great, even better than the two parables that introduce it (Lost Sheep/Lost Coin). The lost son was pardoned and then capable of receiving greater gifts than he had before.
He received a robe, ring, shoes and feast. The robe parallels to “putting off the old man, putting on the new.” See also Revelation 19:8 as well.
The prodigal just wanted to return to as a slave but his father gave him a ring. The ring is an emblem of wealth, position, honor. It is a sign of delegated authority like the Pharoah’s signet-ring was placed on Joseph’s ring. So the son went as low as possible but restoration was possible to highest dignity.
What about the shoes? Is that just drapery?
God does prepare us for future service and for every step they have to take. It starts with forgiving our past which gives us power to live the future.
And the feast? Remember what drove the son back: not his heart or conscience, but his stomach. Even so low a motive is accepted by God!
He had to learn that he could not get bread on his own terms, and that what he wished most was not what he needed first. He had to be forgiven before he can be fed.
Romans 5:8 says, ” But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Every lash of the whip across his back, every thud of the hammer driving spikes in his hands and feet, was the voiceof God saying, “I love sinners!”