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On Mission for Our Master

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On Mission for Our Master

Acts 13:1-5

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 3, 2013

*In August of 2002, Adelina Dominguez went home to be with the Lord. At the time, Adelina was living in a nursing home in San Diego, California. And she was in the Guinness Book of Records when she died, because Adelina was the oldest person living in the United States. She was 114 years old!

*When a reporter asked Adelina the secret of her long life, she gave all the credit to God and His plan for her life. Adelina said, “I knew God had a purpose for my life.” (1)

*God had a purpose for her. And God’s got a purpose for us, too!

-Whether we are 14 or 114, God’s got a mission for us.

1. And the first step is our salvation. God wants us to have salvation.

*I am sure that the Lord is able to use lost people to advance His Kingdom. But in order for us to really be on mission for the Master, we must be saved. We must be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ.

*In vs. 1 we see some saved men. -- God’s Word says:

1. Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul (who we know as the Apostle Paul).

*These men in vs. 1 helped take the good news of Jesus Christ all over the Roman Empire. They were willing to go through incredible hardship. They saw the Hand of God at work in amazing ways. And all of that happened because they were saved.

*Verse 1 tells us that these men were “in the church.” Well, aren’t we in the church today? -- Not necessarily.

*When vs. 1 says they were “in the church,” it wasn’t talking about a building like this. God’s Word wasn’t talking about a building at all. It is talking about the spiritual church: The Body of Christ made up of everyone who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

*But how do we get in the church? -- There is only one way, and we find it in vs. 5, which says: “When they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.”

*“They preached the Word of God.” -- To get in God’s church you must hear and believe the good news in the Word of God.

*Here’s part of Paul’s message in a Jewish synagogue on that first mission trip. You can see it starting down in vs. 32, where Paul said:

32. “And we declare to you glad tidings that promise which was made to the fathers.

33. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’

34. And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’

35. Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’

36. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;

37. but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.

38. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;

39. and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

*Here’s the good news in the Word of God for us: God created you and loves you beyond measure. He loves us even though all of us have broken His laws and been selfish in our lives. He loved us enough to send His only Son into the world to die for our sins. That’s what Jesus Christ did when He died on the cross. But God the Father raised Him from the dead. And now Jesus offers eternal life to everyone who will believe in Him and receive Him as Lord and Savior.

*About 30 years ago, Andrew Parker and his family were trapped on a ferry that was sinking in the choppy waters of the English Channel. There was panic and confusion. People were screaming. It was a horrific situation.

*By the grace of God, there was large metal buoy floating close to the ship, close, but just out of reach. It was too far to jump, except for Andrew. He was big enough and strong enough to stretch his body out across the gap. Andrew turned his body into a human bridge and 20 people crossed over to safety. (2)

*That’s what Jesus Christ did for us! -- None of us is big enough or strong enough or smart enough or good enough to get to Heaven on our own.

*But Jesus Christ will be your bridge. He even died on the cross to be your bridge to Heaven. Jesus is the way, but you have to trust Him. And when you do you, He will give you salvation. Then you will really be in the church.

*God’s got a mission for us. -- So He wants us to have salvation.

2. And He wants us to have a transformation.

*God wants to give us the kind of transformation that had happened in vs. 1. Please listen to this verse again:

1. Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

*When these men started out in life, they had absolutely nothing in common.

-Niger was most probably a black man from Africa. His name means “black”. Lucius was also from Africa.

*And Manaen was brought up as Herod the tetrarch’s foster brother. His foster brother was the ruler of Galilee. So Manaen had lived in the lap of luxury, and in a flood of corruption.

*Manaen’s foster father was King Herod. He was the monster of a man who wanted to murder Jesus, when the Lord was just a toddler. Of course, Jesus escaped. But Manaen’s foster father murdered all the boys in Bethlehem up to age 2. And Manaen’s foster brother was the man who had John the Baptist beheaded. That was the atmosphere where Manaen grew up.

*Then there was Saul or Paul. He had been brought up as the strictest Pharisee. The Pharisees hated Herodians like Manaen. Plus remember how much Paul hated Christians. He went out of his way to persecute believers, put them in prison, and even put them to death.

*These men had nothing in common.

-What happened to them?

-What in the world brought these men together?

*Only one thing: They were radically transformed by the power of the cross. They were radically changed by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus broke down all of the old barriers and turned these men into spiritual brothers.

*They were brothers in Christ!

-Ready to work together.

-Growing stronger in the Lord.

-Getting ready to go on mission for the Lord.

*Their lives had been radically transformed by Jesus Christ. And He wants to change our lives too. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He gives us a new spiritual heart. So 2 Cor 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

*King Duncan compared it to a story one man told about the old car he drove when he was a poor, college student. In his words this car was “ratty and ragged.” It was a piece of junk!

*He was having trouble with something he couldn't identify, so he took it to a repair shop. The mechanic looked at it a couple of minutes, and with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “What you really need is the radiator cap solution.”

*“Oh?” the young car owner said, trying not to sound too confused. “Do you mean the radiator cap isn't holding enough pressure?”

*“That's part of the problem,” said the mechanic. “You need to take the radiator cap off and drive another car under it. Then the next day you can replace the radiator cap.” (3)

*That what Jesus Christ does when we trust in the Lord. He gets rid of the old, and gives us something brand new: A life filled with His goodness and love.

*The problem is, we’ve still got some of those old parts hanging on. So if you are still struggling with something, Christian, take heart!

*We are all weak. We all have our faults and failures. Even Paul struggled at times with sin. In Romans 7:15, he said, “I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.”

*But God is still in the transformation business! -- As Paul prayed in 2 Thess 5:

23. . . May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

*Christians: God is in the transformation business! Trust Him to finish what He’s started in your life.

*God has a mission for us. -- So He wants us to have a transformation.

3. And He wants us to have preparation.

*God wants us to get ready for His mission. There is such a great need today in the world, in our country, in our parish, in our families. And God wants us to get ready to meet those needs down the street and around the world.

*How can we get ready to do what the Lord wants us to do? -- Verses 2&3 tell us:

2. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.''

3. Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

[1] How can we get ready for our mission? -- One way is by worshipping.

*That’s what it means in vs. 2, when it says “they ministered to the Lord.” Many times the word “minister” comes from the Greek word di-a-ko-ne’-o, where we get our word “deacon.”

*But this word “minister” is lei-tour-ge’-o, where we get our word “liturgy.” And a liturgy is just the order of worship like we have in our bulletin every Sunday. So the “ministry” God’s Word is talking about here in vs. 2 is worship.

*Church, we must seek the Lord in worship, focusing on His goodness, grace and love! We must worship the Lord by bowing our hearts before Him in reverence.

*We must worship the Lord, spiritually kissing His Hand in love and gratitude:

-Thankful for His grace.

-Thankful for His death on the cross.

-Thankful for the gift of eternal life and our home in Heaven.

*They were serving the Lord by giving Him worship and praise. And the more we worship the Lord, the more He is able to prepare our hearts for our mission.

-How can we get ready for our mission? -- By worshipping the Lord.

[2] And by fasting.

*Verses 2&3 both mention God’s people fasting. Fasting usually means denying food to ourselves for a period of time. But I’ve heard of people fasting from TV or from the internet.

*Fasting is saying to God: “Lord, there’s something more important than my body. Lord, there’s something more important than my desires.”

*I don’t begin to fast as often as I should. But all believers should fast, as God leads and our health allows.

-How can we get ready for God’s mission? -- By fasting.

[3] And by listening.

*Their hearts were open to hear the Lord. And in vs. 2, they did hear the Lord. “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

*You could say: “I wish I could hear the Lord like that!” But the same Holy Spirit who spoke in vs. 2 is here right now. And through His Word, He’s got something to say to all of us today! We just need to open our hearts to listen.

-How do we get ready for God’s mission? -- By listening.

[4] And by praying.

*In vs. 3, they prayed. And today begins the Week of Prayer for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. We will pass out prayer guides at the end of the service this morning. And each day you will find specific people and places to pray for.

*Nothing we can do works better than prayer. And all of us can pray.

*Martin Luther was a great hero of our faith who started the reformation of the church about 500 years ago. Once Luther's puppy was beside the supper table, waiting for a scrap from his master. The puppy was staring at Luther with an open mouth and riveted eyes.

*Luther noticed his dog’s attention and said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on that piece of meat.” (4)

*Martin Luther wanted to be a better prayer warrior. And so should we! Pray with all your heart for missions in North America, and God’s mission for you.

-How can we get ready for God’s mission? -- By praying.

[5] And by obeying.

*The early church here was obedient to the Lord. Listen to it again in vs. 2-4:

2. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.''

3. Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

4. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

*In vs. 2, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” -- Then in vs. 3, “they sent them away.”

*I am sure that the church did not want to send Barnabas and Paul away.

-But they were obedient.

*Maybe Barnabas and Paul did not want to go away.

-But they were obedient.

*Maybe some of the other church members wanted to go, but they stayed.

-They were obedient.

*They obeyed the Lord. And the best way we can get ready for tomorrow’s mission is to obey the Lord today.

*Who’s on the throne of your life?

-Are you listening to the Word of God?

-Are you listening to the Holy Spirit of God?

*All of us need to be living more and more in obedience to the Lord in every area of our lives.

*How can we get ready for God’s mission? -- The same 5 ways we see here:

-Worshipping, fasting, listening, praying and obeying.

*God wants us to get ready for His mission. And He will surely help us.

-God has a mission for us. -- So He wants us to have preparation.

4. And He wants us to have dedication.

*Just like we see here: God makes the call. And we make the commitment.

*Do not think that God is not calling you to serve Him.

-Psalm 100:2 tells all of us to “serve the Lord with gladness.”

-Ephesians 2:8-10 says this to all Christians:

8. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.

10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

-And the greatest compliment we can ever hear from Jesus is in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”

*God makes the call. And we make the commitment.

-Dedicate your heart and hands to serve the Lord every way you can!

-Then trust God to show you what to do.

*Bruce Howell tells about one young lady’s conversation with a preacher. He had come to her church to preach a revival. And they talked about her dedicating her life to the Lord.

*She said, “I don’t dare give myself totally to the Lord. He might send me out as a missionary to China!”

*The preacher replied: “If some cold, snowy morning a little half-frozen bird came pecking at your window, seeking shelter. And the bird would let you take it in, putting itself entirely in your power. What would you do? Would you grip it in your hand and crush it? Or would you give it shelter and warmth and food and care?” -- A new light came into the woman’s eyes and she said, “Oh, I see now. I can trust God.”

*Two years later their paths crossed again, and she reminded the preacher about their conversation. She told him that she had completely given herself to God.

*Then her face lit up with a bright smile. “Guess where He’s sending me?” She said, -- “To China!” (5)

*She was trusting in the Lord. And we can trust Him too!

*There’s no telling where the Lord will send you before your life is through.

-But right now, He has sent you here.

*Dedicate your heart and hands to serve the Lord every way you can!

-Then trust God to show you what to do.

*And remember: Whether we are 14 or 114, -- God’s got a mission for us.

-Lets go to the Lord in prayer.

(1) Sources: “40 Days of Purpose - Week 3” and http://articles.latimes.com/print/2002/aug/24/local/me-domingues24

(2) Jon Johnston, “WALLS OR BRIDGES” - Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988 - Source: Sermons.com email illustration 01092005

(3) Colorado Comments, http://coloradocomments.com - Source: “Dynamic Preaching” - April 2004, #1 - “Needed: A Radiator Cap Solution” by King Duncan - Phil 2:6-11

(4) Luther's “Tabletalk” - Source: Sermonsillustrations.com - Prayer

(5) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Bruce Howell

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