EIGHT QUALITIES NEEDED TO BE ON MISSION WITH GOD
Last week we saw that intimacy with God leads to a vision from God to carry out with God. If we try to carry out the vision God has given us without ongoing intimacy with Him we lose the power of God to fulfill His mission. Last week we looked at Acts 13:2 and I want to share some more thoughts on that as it relates to being on mission with God. "While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, (a picture of worship/intimacy with God) the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (a picture of being on mission with God). The Greek for "ministering" is LeitourgeÃ…Â and from Strong's definitions of that word the one that seems to fit the context here is: Christians serving Christ, by or in prayer.
Last week I shared that "ministering to the Lord" could mean 3 things in particular: 1) to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 100) for what He has done and is doing and will do (heaven); 2) to praise and worship Him for Who He is (See Revelation 4 & 5-Holy – means other and separate from His creation/creatures (you and me). And 3) to express in songs or words our love to Him in response to His perfect love for us (Eph. 5:18-19). Our Lover (God) wants to hear His Beloved (us) respond in kind. I believe (and have experienced this) that as we "minister" to the Lord we invite His manifest Presence in which He "speaks" to our hearts and encourages us, directs us (as He did Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13) convicts us (which "hurts good") and reveals His love to us in an increasingly personal way. (Eph. 3:16-19) This knowledge of personal love for me (and you) is what I believe Paul was referring to in 2 Cor. 5:14 when he said that the love of Christ compelled him to serve others (to be on mission with God). This is point 7 in the lesson from last week which I will elaborate on as I conclude this message.
Here is a review of the first 5 points:
1) Know and use the spiritual gifts God has given you – (seen in Paul and Barnabas throughout this chapter.)
2) Spiritual boldness to move through opposition (v.2-3)
3) Serve in the power of the Spirit by experiencing the free flow of the power of God (vv.8-10)
4) Humility (vv.14-15)
5) Persistence (vv. 19-23)
6) Follow-up – teaching and grounding them in the Word, exhorting them to grow and serve the Lord, organizing the church with leaders and commending them to the Lord. (vv. 21-23) "They returned to Lystra and to conium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." 23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed." The Great Commission says we are to make disciples not just lead people to salvation. And this was dangerous work because they had already stirred up the unbelieving Jews and it was likely that they would experience even more persecution. But they went anyway knowing that these new believers needed to be strengthened in the Word and provided with spiritual leaders (church planting/organization) for their ongoing growth and outreach to those around them.
7) Commitment (vv. 24-26) – Even as they headed home they took the opportunity to preach in Perga as it seems they did not do when they passed through there before (Acts 13:13-14). "Woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel" and "the love of Christ compels me" (1 Corinthians 9:16; 2 Cor. 5:14) ["Paul says, If I don't preach the Gospel I get sick. I just do this so I don't have to live with a messed up conscious. Don't pat me on the back. I do it because I have to do it. He called me to do it. He told me to do it. What do you expect me to do?" Let me tell you something, people, that's the test of your commitment. Not what you do when you're healthy and when you're relaxed and when you're refreshed but are you just as committed wiped out for the ministry that God has called you to do?" MacArthur]
8) Give all the glory to God -"When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles." (v. 27)
"From there they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished." (v. 26) Paul and Barnabas did it – the work God called them to do on this missionary journey was done! We all want to hear Jesus say, Well done. Our Lord said the same as he completed His work – It is finished! Paul said the same later in Acts and then just before his death. "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (Paul – Acts 20:24) "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Tim. 4:6-8) O Lord, grant that we may say the same!
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1) Follow up – What role do you feel you have in the ongoing growth and encouragement of fellow believers? (See Hebrews 10:24-25)
2) Commitment – Read 1 Cor. 9:16; 2 Cor. 5:14-15- Do you feel compelled to serve the Lord as Paul and Barnabas did?
3) Give all the glory to God – How and where do you tell others all that God has done for you? Where have you seen God work through you?
4) "From there they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished." Paul and Barnabas could say what Jesus said ("It is finished!") and what we all want to hear Jesus say to us on that Day: "Well done – you finished the work I called you to do." Does this inspire you to finish your work? (See Eph. 2:10)