Posted by: lepages | August 7, 2010

On a Mission!

Last Sunday, due to unanticipated circumstances as well as preaching at church I ended up leading too – and that had to be flexible, as having planned to lead and involve children in the worship there were none! (save one lass who’s in her early teens and stayed in for the whole service) We began worship with ‘Blessed be your name’ Followed up with a grand old hymn, Praise my soul, the King of heaven and then a great Godfrey Birtill song God so loved this whole world

God so loved this whole world
That He gave his only Son
And if we will cleave to Him
We’ll not perish
But we’ll have eternal Life
And we’ll never be condemned
For God’s promises are Yes and Amen!

Yeah yeah yeah!…Yeah yeah yeah!
Yeah yeah yeah!…Yeah yeah yeah!
Yeah yeah yeah!…Yeah yeah yeah!
and Amen!.

Though we walk through dark days
Where the earth and heavens shake
Through the valley of despair
He is with us
Never giving up on us
Faithful and forever friend
For God’s promises are Yes and Amen!

Through the cross we are saved
In the blood we put our faith
For there is no other way
In to heaven
Jesus conquered death and hell
Promised to return again
And God’s promises are Yes and Amen!

We finished by sharing in a big ‘YEAH!’ about our belief in Jesus and all he has done for us!

Frances brought our Bible reading from Luke 6:12-26

By way of an introduction to our theme we then played the first 1min 30secs of this introduction to one of the Mission Impossible films.

Introduction

This message will destruct in 5 secs – no it won’t!! This is a message which has stood for nearly 2000 years

‘Your mission, should you choose to accept it’ – Mission Impossible

Except that with the Christian faith, its not a case of ‘should you choose to accept it’.

If you are a follower of Jesus, a disciple of Jesus, because that’s what a Christian is, then you are On a mission

Jesus chose 12 people to send them out, and over the next few weeks we’re going to be thinking about that, but before he returned to heaven he told the 11 of them remaining to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19,20

So Jesus wants us to do whatever he taught the apostles to do.
If you are a Christian here this morning you are called for a mission

This isn’t an option – its what you are called to be and to do. It will manifest itself in different ways in different lives, but you, as a Christian are called for a mission.

We’re going to take time to reflect on this call, where it comes from, what we’re called to do, what the implications of this call are.

If you haven’t got your Bibles open at our reading for today, please turn to it –
Luke 6:12-26

READ v12,13
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles”

We are called to be disciples of Jesus, people who learn from Jesus, who are called to be like Jesus – the word ‘Christian’ means ‘Christ like ones’ – you and I are called to learn from Jesus and to follow his example in how we live our lives.

That means that you and I are – called to pray

Jesus went out on a mountainside to pray and to talk with God – and he spent the night doing it!

When was the last time you or I did that??!!

Jesus ‘spent the night praying to God’ – some things are worth giving time to prayer, especially investing in others as he was about to do.

Last week, Oto spoke powerfully about how men of faith come to that position by spending time in the presence of God.

If you want to grow in your relationship with God, you need to spend time with him.

Now, I don’t think Jesus spent every night up on a mountainside in prayer. But he did sometimes. At times when he needed great wisdom, when he needed God’s power, when he needed God’s reassurance.

There will be times in our lives when personally and corporately as a church, we really need God’s wisdom and discernment, and at those times we need to take extra time in prayer, seeking God, seeking his will, seeking his power.

I wonder if anyone else here besides me finds it difficult sometimes to spend time in prayer?? (Hands up!) I get so distracted by the things that surround me, the things that need doing. Jesus sets us a wonderful example. He was human just like you and me.

He ‘went out’ – some times if we want to get serious in spending time with God we need to step out of our normal situation in life – as elders and as a leadership we sometimes step out of our normal pattern to go somewhere for a day and just spend time in God’s presence. As a church we will do this again in September as we have a guest speaker for the day, Bernard Thompson, who will come to share on the theme of ‘Living in the Presence.’ Sometimes I have taken time to do this – to go off for a day and just spend the day in prayer and with God – preparing for today has made me aware of how I have failed to do this recently and of how much I need to do so – so how about choosing to schedule a time when you can go away somewhere – we don’t have mountains here, but there is beautiful countryside around where we can escape from people and spend time with God – talk with him about what’s going on in your life, pray for the members of your family, for your friends, for your neighbours, for the members of your cell group, for any areas of responsibility he has entrusted you with – and as well as talking to God, listen to him – be prepared for him to speak to you through his word as you read it, through the creation around you and through that still small voice that speaks into your heart and mind and soul.

We are called for a mission and that means being called to pray. It’s also important to remember who has called us…..
called by God

Jesus called all his disciples to him, and then he chose 12 of them from the crowd of the disciples, calling them by name to be his ‘apostles’, his ‘sent ones’ – the ones that he would send out with special responsibility and whom he would entrust the training of others too.

If we are a disciple of the Lord Jesus we are so because God has chosen us and called us to be his disciples. And as his disciples he calls us to different responsibilities. We’re encouraged in Scripture to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, but the Holy Spirit gives gifts to his people as he chooses. For some of us he will call us to upfront stuff, for others we will be background. For some of us he will call us to mission that takes us out of our normal setting – Geoff & Annette, called to go and take the gospel to areas in France, Rob & Lois called to help people release their worship to God in their own ways, ***** & ***** that we heard from just a couple of weeks ago, called to take the gospel to the ***** people in the ***** mountains. God’s call on your life may not take you to other places, but perhaps he will call you to take up responsibilities in different ways to help see his Kingdom coming here in this town and in this community.

You might be thinking ‘God wouldn’t call me to anything. Might as well switch off at the moment.’ But hold on a minute!! Jesus chose 12 whom he designated apostles and sent out with the gospel to teach others in turn. We know quite a bit about some of them – but what about James son of Alphaeus, what about Simon the Zealot, what about Judas son of James??

God doesn’t choose and call the big guns – he chooses people and calls them to fulfil his purposes in his Kingdom as he sees fit.

You might be thinking, ‘Well, I hear all that, but I don’t measure up. Why would God want or call me?’

Look at the list of folk that Jesus chose – v14 -16 – he chose Simon Peter – a brash fisherman, who’s mouth kicked out words before his mind and heart had time to catch up – Jesus chose a man who when pressure came was going to deny that he even knew him. (Illustrate with member of congregation)

He chose Thomas who was going to doubt that what Jesus said would happen would really happen and who would profess unbelief to others. Ever have questions about your faith? You’re not alone! Even some of those closest to Jesus did that!

And then what about Judas Iscariot? Fancy choosing someone who is not only going to let you down big time, but is actually going to betray you….. Inspite of all that Jesus still chose him!

I believe that God has a call on some of your lives and there are those of us here who are doubting that call, but the Lord wants to say to you, yes I have called you and yes, that call stands inspite of the ways in which you feel you don’t measure up.

If you are called by God for a mission, then you are called to pray and you are also:-
called to serve

These 12 having been called by Jesus from the crowd of disciples, and designated apostles could have felt so full of themselves – wouldn’t it have been nice to stand on the mountainside with Jesus and look down at the people as he taught them – but…. having called them, Jesus then went down to the crowd – a mixture of disciples and others who had come to hear Jesus’ teaching or receive healing – and he took his new apostles down with him and stood them on a level place with the crowd. It would have been easier for Jesus to teach from the mountainside and throw his voice across the crowd, but I’m sure on this occasion he went down to make sure those he had chosen knew that they were not above the others, that they were all on the same level – as elders and deacons, we are not above anyone else in the congregation, but we have been called by God to fulfil a responsibility in teaching, nurturing, discipling, caring for God’s family and in working to see that family extended.

Jesus was to go on to teach the apostles again and again that they were called to be servants. As leaders in the church here, we are called to be servants, as indeed we all are as Christians.

Jesus, in calling and commissioning his disciples, didn’t paint an artificially rosy picture, to encourage people to accept his call on their lives. Its important that we understand that acknowledging and accepting God’s call on our lives doesn’t guarantee us a nice easy life – a life following Jesus and living for him will be a blessed life, but it won’t necessarily be an easy life and so its fair to say that when we are called to a mission by God, we may be:-
called to an uncertain future

In Mali, where Rob & Lois are currently serving there is unrest in the north of the country. If Rob is scheduled to go to the north of the country there’s no guarantee of a certain future. In verses 20-26 Jesus speaks of blessing for those who struggle and he speaks of woe for those who are in human terms blessed. Let me read the verses to you from The Message translation which renders it in a provocative way, stimulating us ton reflect and to respond.

The Message – Luke 6:20-26
You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.

You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.
“Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.
But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you’ll ever get.
And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.
“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.


Conclusion
So, are you up for it? Ready to go on a mission with God? Ready to give yourself to prayer and spending time with God – Jesus after spending time with God was able to choose those whom he would send, and God’s power was manifested in his life so that just touching him brought healing to people because ‘power was coming from him and healing them all.’ v19 Are you prepared to give yourself to a life of service, no matter what the cost, because if you do, you will be blessed!

Prayer.

To commence our response in worship we sung ‘There is a voice that must be heard’ and several members of the congregation led us on.

When we came to our Communion time we read 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 and then had time to examine our hearts before God.
Having confessed we were then reminded that we are not guilty any more, because the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins as we confess to him (See 1 John 1:9)

We listened to ‘Not guilty any more’ before we came and shared in bread and wine and remembered the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus

There was more response from the congregation and we concluded our worship with Thank you for the cross Lord

My preach of course was slightly different to my notes above. You can have a listen on the Rutland Road Church website here

After we concluded worship we went out to Bedford park and shared in a brilliant picnic together, enjoying some fun and games as well as opportunity to enjoy good food and good company.

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