May: Launch Out… to Greater Works!

This year’s theme of “Launch Out” has been a quest for us to learn to live by faith in a more practical way. While living by faith is always exciting at testimony time it can be quite frightening in daily life. Most of us by early adulthood have found our comfort zone in life and we are quite content to stay within it. Our memory verse for May challenges us to believe God for greater works. Will you believe? Jesus said to the disciples, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). There are several truths that this verse gives to us.

First note the prerequisite to greater works is found in the phrase, “…He that believeth on Me…” In a general sense this verse speaks of a man who has dynamic faith in the Son of God. In a more specific sense this verse is aimed at the apostles especially the phrase”…the works I do shall he do also…” The apostles did the works of Christ when they opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, and made the lame to walk. There are those today who seem only interested in the dramatic miracles that identified the apostles in their work for the Lord Jesus. The miracles that the apostles did proved that the early church was a movement of God and not a man-made entity. You and I must believe that God wants to use us today in a greater way, although in a different way from the apostles.

The power of greater works includes more than just the miraculous signs gifts of the early church.  We must have this divine power to do the greater works He desires us to do. This power is the filling of the Spirit that allows God to work through us. The indwelling Holy Spirit gives greater power today to God’s people than even the disciples had prior to the resurrection of Christ. The work of Christ done through spirit-filled believers is definitely a greater work.

There is also a pattern of greater work. We have a greater message to proclaim today. We have the completed gospel that gives instant and complete salvation (1Cor. 15:1-4). The message we proclaim brings about the miracle of the new birth. When an individual trusts Christ, in that same instant, they become a new creature (2Cor. 5:17).  In Christ, we have greater benefits than Old Testament saints had. This “new birth” I believe to be the greatest miracle of all. Lastly, we have a greater world to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ (7.3 billion people today versus 150 to 170 million people of Christ’s day). It will take a greater work to reach our world. There is nothing more important than reaching people with the gospel of Christ because in the end the difference is an eternity in Heaven instead of one in Hell. Will we trust Christ to do greater works with us as individuals and as a church?

April: Launch Out… with the Gospel Abroad!

Paul had never been to Rome but in our memory verses for April he expressed his desire to visit them and to preach the gospel among them. “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.   For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:15, 16).

Paul was in essence a missionary church planter with a world-wide vision of getting the gospel out to as many people as he could. He wanted to preach the gospel in areas where the gospel had not been preached thoroughly (Romans 15:20). While it is obvious that the gospel had been preached enough in Rome that a local church had been established there, nevertheless Rome still needed many missionaries to reach its vastly unreached millions.

The “Great Commission” not only compels us to reach our communities with the gospel, but it also demands that we “…preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). To reach the world with the gospel means, we must be engaged in world-wide evangelism (i.e. missions). Paul’s desire to preach the gospel to those at Rome is a picture of the burden that we too need to have. While most of us cannot travel to exotic places to preach the gospel like Paul did we can be a part of the process. Paul said of the believers in Philippi, “Now ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated (gave financial support), with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only” (Philippians 4:15). The Philippians supported Paul so that he could travel to places and preach the gospel to those who had never heard. They did this in spite of the fact that they were an infant church themselves. We too can be involved in world-wide evangelism through our “Faith Promise” giving in support of missions.

We, as a church, give to missions each year by asking the Lord how much He wants us to individually give above our tithe to get the gospel out. We never pressure you to give. We only inform you of how important this is to the Lord. The theme from one of our first mission’s conference says it all – “His Last Command Our First Concern!”.

I hope that you will begin praying this month, asking the Lord what He would have you to do to get the gospel out, what He would have you to give to this great cause. If we all get involved and give that which the Lord desires us to give we can restore the levels of support that we once gave to our missionaries. Likewise, we can add more missionaries to reach unreached people groups around the world. I assure you that the money that you give to the Lord through “Faith Promise” is not just spent, but rather invested with the assurance of eternal dividends. Will you “LAUNCH OUT” in faith and support getting the gospel out abroad?

March: Launch Out… with the Gospel at home

“Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:   For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.   And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:9-11). Paul’s ministry was normally an itinerant one with him not spending much time in any one place. The work in Corinth was a difficult one, made even harder when the chief ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, was saved under Paul’s ministry. Crispus’ conversion seemed to galvanize the Jews in their opposition to Paul and the gospel. It would have been easy for Paul to justify in his mind, the moving on to another area more receptive to the gospel. This is the background in which our Lord chooses to speak to Paul with reassurance.

Isn’t it is just like our Lord to speak when we are facing trouble or trials. He comes to us so gently, encouraging us when our faith is growing weak. His “peace be still” can calm the strongest of storms that rage within our souls. The Lord chose to speak to Paul through a night vision: which was not an unusual way of addressing His people before the Word of God was completed. I have no doubt that the Lord’s presence was an encouragement to Paul during this difficult time and kept him focused on doing God’s will. You too will face difficulties as you seek to do God’s will. Will your close relationship with the Lord keep you on focus?

In this vision the Lord reveals several things to help Paul complete his task of reaching the people of Corinth with the gospel. First, the Lord said “Be not afraid…”  The “fear not’s” of the Word of God are there as a reminder to us that our Lord is in control of every situation. The devil uses fear to keep the Christian from accomplishing God’s will for his life. The Lord told Paul that He would not allow anyone to harm him as he witnessed to the people of Corinth. I am sure that with the uproar that was caused by Jews rejection of the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, that the thought of witnessing was intimidating. Is it intimidating to you to witness to friends, family and neighbors? The Lord says, “Fear not” to you too. Don’t let the devil rob you of the joy of seeing people saved because you are afraid of what people may say or think about you when you witness.

The next thing that the Lord tells Paul is most interesting. He says, “…for I have much people in this city.” The implication of this statement is God’s sovereignty in election. Divine election is a Biblical doctrine that we need not fear. Election is always based upon our Lord’s foreknowledge (1Peter 1:2).  Election should not discourage us from witnessing, just the opposite. If the Lord had many people in Corinth, a most wicked city, do you not think that He also has many people in Concord that He desires to save! We must be willing to obey His command to take the gospel to every individual (Mark 16:15).

Will you determine to “launch out” in your witness this year? Will you tell others about Christ and trust that the Lord will use the gospel to save their souls? I know witnessing is the ultimate opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and I am not telling you that you that it will be easy. I am assuring you that when you witness depending upon the Lord you will experience His power working through your life (Romans 1:15-16). Will you “launch out” and witness or will you stay on the shore? The choice is yours to make.

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