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1924 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79401
806-763-0464 Fax:763-7331
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Dr. Rodney Plunket

Celebrating the Spread of the Good News

A Topical Sermon for Mission Special Sunday

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 prophet’s message is a message of good news to this people. And the prophet says that his message will be so powerful that the people’s 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 Spirit’s 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 people’s 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. Roal’s 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 wasn’t 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.

Roal’s 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 Lord!

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 don’t 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 don’t 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 don’t know where I would be today. They have given so much to me and my children, they give of themselves endlessly and I don’t 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 all––my family."

But the Good News is not just spreading in far off places. Just a few blocks north of our assembly is Carpenter’s Church. Our "missionary" to Lubbock’s inner city is Jim Beck. Listen to his report of something very special that is going on there this morning.

This Sunday at Carpenter’s 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 Sprit’s 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 Carpenter’s Kitchen––curled 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. Harrison’s clothes are full of holes and are very few. He does have two pairs of shoes––one is a pair of flip-flops made from a worn-out car tire. The other is a ripped pair of canvas boat shoes––these 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 hadn’t 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 hadn’t been there in so long that I forgot how to meander through the bush to find the place. No––there isn’t 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 didn’t 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 decision––you see, Harrison doesn’t 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 words––they don’t 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 value––a cheap, plastic blue ink pen. And I was reminded that our God doesn’t expect huge contributions of money––but he does want a heart that takes any opportunity to share. . . . Harrison was a visitor––he could have foregone the contribution. But he didn’t. And we shouldn’t. Even if all we have is a pen, God can take a pen and write His name on [people’s] 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 God’s 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. Let’s open our hearts to the Spirit’s Power as we give!

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