Celebrating the Spread of the
A Topical Sermon for Mission
Last Sunday we focused upon Isaiah (Isa)
61:1-4 and Luke (Lk) 4:16-30. In Isa 61:1-4 we heard the ancient
prophet say that he had been anointed by the Spirit of God to bring a
message of optimistic faith to the Jews. They needed such a message
because, even though they had been able to return finally from forced
exile in Babylon, their lives were not very bright and the city of
Jerusalem was still not rebuilt. The prophets message is a message
of good news to this people. And the prophet says that his message
will be so powerful that the peoples mood will turn from one of
mourning to one of gladness and the people will become so strong that
"they will be called oaks of righteousness" (verse [v] 3).
The result upon the people will be so profound that "They shall
build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former
devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of
many generations" (v 4). So God anointed the prophet with the
Spirit of God to preach good news and the result would be a powerful
restoration of the Jews and their nation.
In Lk 4:16-30 Jesus entered the synagogue in
his hometown of Nazareth and reads Isa 61:1ff. Jesus made clear that
he was another fulfillment of that passage. In other words, Jesus also
was anointed by the Spirit of God to preach the good news to a people
who were poor and oppressed. But Jesus did not stop there. He also
made clear that the poor and the oppressed include non-Jews to whom
the message must also be proclaimed. The Jews of Nazareth wanted this
passage to apply to them alone. When they heard Jesus apply it to
non-Jews, they became extremely angry. The text tells us that
They got up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built,
so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through
the midst of them and went on his way (verses [vv] 29-30).
These Jews seem actually to be opposed to the
spread of the kingdom beyond their borders, but Jesus made clear that
He had been anointed for that very purpose.
I want us to be anointed like Jesus. I want
us to receive the Spirit of God for the purpose of spreading the Good
News out beyond every border. I want us by the Spirits power
to break down every wall that holds back the saving message of Jesus.
And this morning I want us to celebrate the part God had allowed us to
play in the spread of the Good News of Jesus. I want us to celebrate
the way the Good News has transformed peoples lives.
We have had a powerful example of that in the
past several weeks with the bringing of little Roal and his mother
Christina from Peru. Roals cleft palate was repaired because of the
love of God the filled our medical mission team on their trip to Peru
in the Fall. God opened doors and the flights were free, the surgery
was free, the hospital stay was free. And wasnt it great to see
Roal so full of energy and with a life of such promise ahead of him?
Our own Karen Randolph was used powerfully by God to make all of this
happen. She is now in Peru where she will be for two or three months.
She sent me this email from Peru on the 26th of April.
Roals dad, David Gonzalez, met
Christina and Roal at the airport in Cusco Friday morning. Roal
ran to him so happy to see him after such a long time. I spent
some time bringing David up to date on that had transpired, and
over and over again David said, "Please tell everyone thank
you for all that you have done for my son. I am overwhelmed with
the generosity of the gift of speech for Roal."
By the way, Karen has also told many of us of
the increased number of people who are coming to Jesus in Peru. And
she says that the way God opened their hearts to hear and receive the
Good News was the medical mission trip back in the Fall. Praise the
A couple of weeks Broadway received a message
from Amanda Pollock, a member of the church of Christ in Washington,
England. She tells about the leaflet that was distributed to her door
by the church back in 1991. She tells of the Bible studies that it led
to, and she notes that she has been a part of the Washington church
ever since. Now I want to read some of her very own words. Amanda
writes, "What I love the most about Washington Church of Christ
is that we are all a family." She says,
There is always someone to hug me or
encourage me just when I need it the most; I dont know how they
know but they do. I have received advice on everything from
budgeting my finances to disciplining my children. There is always
someone there to step in and give me a break when things get on
top of me; and again, I dont know now they know but they do.
Amanda goes on to say,
I have to say though, that without Rodney
and Michele cheering for me in my corner, I honestly dont know
where I would be today. They have given so much to me and my
children, they give of themselves endlessly and I dont really
know what they get back for themselves. Thanks to them I have now
applied for a job and had an interview, something I would never
have seen myself doing even a year ago.
She closes by saying, "I love you allmy
But the Good News is not just spreading in
far off places. Just a few blocks north of our assembly is Carpenters
Church. Our "missionary" to Lubbocks inner city is Jim
Beck. Listen to his report of something very special that is going on
there this morning.
This Sunday at Carpenters Church there
will be a man preaching who was a heroin addict for thirteen
years. He has been clean for two years, and his life has been
changed by the Sprits power. He has moved out of the
inner-city, but works for the church on his days off from his
other job. When I first met this man he was curled up in the
corner of a couch at Carpenters Kitchencurled up like he
was almost hiding. His life has been drastically changed.
Praise the Lord!
Now a story from Gabe Moudy that we received
on Monday (May 1). He tells a story of a man named Harrison Gona.
Harrison is an older man who worships at
the Mazia chenda Church and has been very involved in growing that
church and helping with evangelistic work in the area. Harrison is
also one of the poorest people I know. He has a small farm where
he tries to produce enough food for his kids. (I think he has five
or six). His house is in shambles (and this is compared to other
mud huts in the area!) and his children very rarely have enough
clothes on. Harrisons clothes are full of holes and are very
few. He does have two pairs of shoesone is a pair of
flip-flops made from a worn-out car tire. The other is a ripped
pair of canvas boat shoesthese are his "Sundy-go-ta-meetin"
shoes, and they are about 4 sizes too big. Needless to say,
Harrison is the epitome of the poverty that we deal with daily
here. It wrenches my heart every time I pass his home and makes me
wish I could do more.
A few weeks ago, Jill and I decided to
visit one of the small churches that we hadnt been to in many
months. This church is called Nguluweni (place of the pigs) church
of Christ. The problem with this plan is that we hadnt been
there in so long that I forgot how to meander through the bush to
find the place. Nothere isnt a road to follow
just a space wide enough to squeeze the Land Cruiser through the
trees. So, we arranged to meet at Mazia chenda early and pick up
someone who would go with us and show us the way. Well, the man
scheduled to visit Nguluweni that morning didnt know the path
for the car either. He only knew the footpath. So, Harrison
volunteered to go in his place. I was a bit alarmed at this
decisionyou see, Harrison doesnt speak English and
neither does anyone else at Nguluweni. But we had asked God that
morning for a good language day and I guess He thought it
pertinent to give us lots of practice!
When we arrived at the village, we were
warmly greeted and soon began the worship. I was asked to preach,
but I had prepared to have a translator present to help me! I
ended up just reading some encouraging words from Psalms and the
church appreciated the wordsthey dont have Bibles to read
these things for themselves. It turns out that the church had some
special need (I never did figure out what it was) and so they had
a special contribution. Now, you see, is where the rubber meets
the road. Harrison had not planned to come to Nguluweni that
morning. Harrison had surely not planned on them having a special
contribution. But Harrison has committed himself to the building
of the church and to His Savior, Jesus Christ. And so, Harrison
gave out of his poverty, just like the widow with two mites did.
Harrison gave his ink pen. At first, I smirked to myself and
thought, "Harrison, what on earth are you doing putting a PEN
in the collection basket?" But then I realized that this
small gift came from a man who gave all he had of valuea
cheap, plastic blue ink pen. And I was reminded that our God doesnt
expect huge contributions of moneybut he does want a heart
that takes any opportunity to share. . . . Harrison was a visitorhe
could have foregone the contribution. But he didnt. And we
shouldnt. Even if all we have is a pen, God can take a pen and
write His name on [peoples] hearts.
May God write His name on our hearts. May God
write it deeply. May our hearts be soft so that God can write deeply
upon it. And may Gods work upon our hearts cause us to be a
generous as Harrison Gona. May we give cheerfully and liberally to
spread the Good News all over the world. May we surpass our $98,520
Mission Special goal. Lets open our hearts to the Spirits Power
as we give!
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