I am struck by the one clear picture that the Scriptures present when Jesus celebrated! It was when he sent 72 of his followers out on a short term missions trip that took place in Luke 10. It was the goal of these followers of Jesus to travel in pairs and minister in the cities and countryside of Jordan and Judea and prepare Israel for the official offer of her King. So, what was the offer? Jesus was offering them the opportunity to become part of His kingdom, for Jesus to be their Lord! This preparation would pave the way for His triumphal entry that was only a few months away. Unfortunately, the plans for His spiritual kingship would not turn out for what many had thought He came to bring. They were looking for a political deliverer and He came to inaugurate His rule and reign on the throne of our lives.
A Ministry of Multiplication
Jesus driving passion was to birth a movement of multiplication of followers who were experiencing Christ in them and taking it to their world. Pete Grieg
He challenged his followers about the incredible opportunities that await those who look to bring people to Jesus. There was no shortage of work to be done; however so few really take Jesus up on his offer as we see in his words, ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few’.
He then tells them to realize the kind of spiritual battle that they were in by saying they would be lambs among wolves. Don’t be oblivious to what is awaiting you out there!
A Ministry of Simplicity
There was a real sense that they were to trust God for each day of ministry that the Lord put in front of them and no they weren’t going barefoot J. Jesus didn’t want any ‘carry on baggage’ and he just told them simply to ‘travel light!’ To travel light means we rely more on the presence of God and the leading of the Spirit than we do on our methods and plans.
Our family leaves on a road trip this week to Saskatchewan where we will be living on a First Nations reserve for 3 weeks. When you get 6 people in a van and their sleeping gear, there won’t be much room for anything else! So, we will really are planning for a ministry of simplicity where it is our desire to bless and pray with the people we meet.
I think it is interesting to note here that they weren’t supposed to greet anyone along the road. Jesus had given them a single minded focus for them to follow and they weren’t supposed to get distracted from that plan.
V5,6 - Bless Them - Pray for peace
Pray for peace for these houses and the people who live in them.
PEACE: "shalom" - absence of strife, "well being," "welfare" completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment. Safety, good relationships, prosperity
"Implicit in shalom is the idea of unimpaired relationships with others and fulfillment in one’s undertakings"
Pray these things for your neighbours.
If you don’t want to think too hard, just say, as Jesus tells his disciples
“Peace to this house!”
Or, memorize Numbers 6:24-26:
The Lord bless you and keep you
the Lord make his face to shine upon you
the Lord lift his continence upon you,
and give you peace
Bless you neighbour!
7-8 - fellowship -develop relationships. Jesus challenged them to ‘remain there’
"Barbeque First!" Before you try to introduce someone to the Gospel, get to know them! Recreate with them, find areas of commonality, and do stuff together, eat together, have coffee! Get outside when your neighbour is outside.
As the weather gets warmer, people so down and are more open to renewing relationships with us. We need to take these opportunities to eat and drink with people who God may be leading us into relationship with.
Jesus spent more time building relationship - eating and drinking with people than anything else! We need to follow his lead! You may be able to work on only a few at a time
Spirituality is a very personal and intimate topic. You would never just meet a person and then ask the how their marriage is going - any fights lately? Getting along with the in-laws? But we think it is completely appropriate to ask the same questions about someone’s relationship with God – we need to be sensitive to His leading.
It isn’t that we hide our faith from our neighbours so we can ambush them later, we need to be open about our relationship with Jesus, but we don’t invite them into our house only to trap them with a gospel presentation! We need to be open and honest and loving to our neighbours.
We as Christians need to be normal - and to do normal things with our neighbours to get to know them!
9a - heal the sick, the kingdom of God is near!
As we get to know our neighbours better, and as they come to trust us, and fell the blessing that we are sending their way, they may share some need in their life - whether it be an illness, a loss, something in their family or their job. And at that time the most compassionate thing that we can do for them is to pray for them. They may allow us to pray for them right there in person! But even if they don’t we can let them know that we will pray for them!
Our desire for our neighbours is that they will have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, they can’t do this unless we introduce them! The only way to introduce them is through prayer – Prayer can really open up people’s minds and hearts and you can’t argue you with a prayer!
Ed Silvoso - "Prayer is the most tangible trace of eternity in the person’s heart" By praying for people in person, God touches their heart through us!
I had the opportunity to pray for my neighbour last week. He is Sikh, but he quick to point out to me that he is not baptized Sikh so therefore no turban or beard for him. He often just sits out on his porch and is always ready to have a conversation. I was going to get my mail and with some encouragement from Sharon, I took the time to get to know him more. He has gone through a lot of physical illness, unemployment and personal challenges, but he wants to go back to school to help others who are going through exactly what he is dealing with. After giving me ‘cherry bombs,’ I just felt led to ask if I could pray for him and he was really open to it. So I prayed, finished and then he exclaims, “AMEN”! It was great.
One of our greatest fears about praying in person for our non-Christian friends is that God will not answer. "If we pray and God doesn’t answer, then they will have even more reason not to come to faith!"
But God seems to love answering prayers for those who have not yet come to faith. In fact Jesus expects people to need miracles in their lives so that they will believe in him.
Even if God does not perform a miracle through our prayers, people are usually touched deeply that we would care for them enough to pray for them.
Prayer touches the hearts of people - all the arguments in the world may not touch a person’s heart, but personal prayer will.
When we pray for people, the first thing that we should do is to invite the Holy Spirit to come and touch them. The Holy Spirit can touch them and when He does, they can really experience the presence of God.
We can debate and talk with people all we want. Here’s thing thing - you cannot argue them into that type of experience. If they are open, God can meet them profoundly.
This is why we need to be connected to God ourselves –we can have a thousand great words for a person , but if God isn’t in it, they will just brush off the person like water off a duck’s back.
We can also read the signs and if their eyes are glazing over as we speak, then we are probably speaking too much! God knows the words, and the actions for that matter that will go to someone’s heart.
Sharing our faith is about listening to see where people are at first before we open our mouth, but it is also about listening to God for them, to hear what he is saying to them.
9b - preach the Gospel
The greatest celebration in heaven
Luke 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Most of us are not called to preach to a whole city or towns; however, it is so important to remember the spiritual principle that stays the same: "The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." (Luke 10:16.)
A Ministry that makes Jesus full of joy!
3x when Jesus wept - Lazarus death, over Jerusalem and in the garden
1x when Jesus was filled with joy – Luke 10:21 it was after the 72 returned and experienced the power and presence of Jesus as they ministered.
Just as Jesus 2000 years ago spent His time at parties, engaging with the disreputable and apparently non-religious, so today He seems surprisingly comfortable among the crowd of partygoers, the non-religious pilgrims of our time. Perhaps He longs that we would vacate our buildings from time to time, that we would turn our temples into tabernacles, that we would become like Him, the friend of sinners (and wear it as a badge of honor) We are the light of the world, but no one wants to stare at the bulb. We are the salt of the earth, but a whole plate of the stuff will make you sick. The people of God are called to scatter and mix, to mingle and move, to influence from a position of weakness, like a small child in a large family, like yeast in a loaf, like a mustard seed beneath a pavement.
Pete Grieg in Red Moon Rising
We are called to be a true reflection of His glory.
He is able to do more than you ask or imagine!
According to the power that is at work within you
To Him be the glory in the church!!
What is the dream that God has placed in your heart for His kingdom? Don’t let it die, pursue it with all your heart!
God is continually doing a new thing! He loves to surprise us and work through us. He provides us with incredible opportunities and challenges us to break new ground! Hosea 10:12 “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” It was a promise God had given his people, but the sad reality was that they chose to depend on their own strength.
My prayer is that God will use us to break new ground as we step out in faith and do a new thing. Pray, seek the Lord and ask that He will shower His righteousness on us. He is doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). We need to remember that the message of love, life, hope and forgiveness in Jesus will never change, but the way that we reach people will constantly change.