January 22,2024

Good morning Church family, 

I pray that we would all count ourselves an integral part of God’s mission of “reaching our world with the Gospel.” It certainly begins by viewing ourselves differently in light of what God’s Word says about us. We should not look at ourselves as ‘at home in the world’ but sojourners (1 Peter 2:11). And as such, we know that we are just passing through to our true home and we want other people to join us in that direction. 

Along those lines, you heard me talk much about spreading out within God’s pattern and strategy that we see in His Story called the Bible: it’s to spread out-out-out with the message of the Gospel.  

Sometimes we resist this. I briefly mentioned Acts 8 yesterday but didn’t have time to get into it. For those of you who are interested in that, keep on reading, and for those of you who believe that my emails are too long (I’ve heard the comments!), you can stop here and remember to live on God’s mission this week. And don’t forget to fill out that paper on your sphere’s of influence. Let’s live faithfully in the realms where God has placed us! 

Now for those who have extra time on your hands to read, here’s a little (probably a little too long) devotional on how God forces us to go when we are bent on staying: 

In Acts 8, we see an example of how God is sovereign over spreading His Gospel through His people in unlikely ways (so don’t try to guess His plan or exactly how He’ll build His Kingdom!). 

This section of Scripture, if I were preaching on it, might be entitled: “The way that God forces us to go when we aren’t very willing.” 

Here’s what Acts 8:1-5 says:

“1And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.”

  • (1) One of the examples of this story shows us how God forces us outside our comfort zone. 
  • (2) It also can help change our thinking in terms of our Church mission. 
  • We should look at our mission of spreading the Gospel as something different than building up God’s Local Church. Here in Acts 8 you see God’s plan to spread the Gospel by dispersing the Local Church. As I mentioned on Sunday, you have Church gathered and Church scattered. God accomplishes a lot when the Church scatters as opposed to gathers. He accomplishes a lot from both but evangelistically, scattering to spread the Gospel seems like more of God’s normal method. 
  • To help us think about the connection between our Church “gathered” and Church “scattered,” think of a holy huddle meant to run a play and move outward. That should be the mission of our Church. We should have a diaspora mentality…”be fruitful and multiply on the face of the earth…”
  • But Churches can be like Babel in Genesis 11 by building ourselves up (solely) instead of moving ourselves out. That’s rebellion and Church idolatry.
  • But in Acts 8, you see God fulfilling the “be fruitful & multiply” (Gen. 1:28) command for His Church spiritually. God accomplishes it by making His Church spread out and multiply by preaching the Gospel as they go. So notice, they do make themselves a glad part of God’s plan by preaching the Gospel. 
  • (3) Here is another thought from Acts 8: This describes God’s sovereignty over evangelism. YOU CANNOT CONTROL EVANGELISM, and it may not be a neat and orderly plan. Here God messes up everybody’s plans. 
  • Think about being displaced from your house, or fleeing the country because it’s that bad, or fleeing the state border. You would think, ‘what is God up to here?’ (And hopefully you would ask that question).  
  • Look no further than God’s Word here. What is God up to in these early Christians lives to be forced to run for their lives? He is making a plan for spreading the Gospel. He is forcing people outside their comfort zones in the most urgently fierce way. When persecution heats up, God’s people spread out and preach the Gospel. 
  • And God makes that happen through an evil scenario. You see an example in Acts 8 of how bad news is producing this spreading report of good news (compare v1 to v4). 
  • Now why does God allow the persecution to heat up and spread out His people? 
  • BECAUSE we need that. We need a little or a lot of nudging in God’s direction towards His mission. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but here in America, comfort tends to be our greatest deterraint from running God’s game plan, not persecution. A little more persecution could do us good (and of course, I’m thankful for the freedom that we have here in America!).
  • But when Christians get thrown into jail (for Gospel reasons), they have a prison ministry. When God’s people get sent across the borders, God just set up another one of His Kingdom embassies. 
  • My Grandfather has a neat story to illustrate how God uses the Church gathered to turn into the Church scattered and spread the Gospel across the world. 
  • He pastored a Church of about 300 in a town that was largely fueled by a military base. The base was shut down and his Church lost something like 80% of its members who dispersed all over the world because the military reassigned them to different areas.
  • Those members began requesting Bible study tapes from my grandfather. So he began sending them his sermon tapes which then created a world-wide ministry all over the globe. 
  • That’s something that only God can do, and often, He does it. 
  • Notice again the power of God and sovereignty of God in evangelism through this Acts record:
  • Paul tried to stop the spread of the Gospel (v1 & v3) but in so doing just poured fuel onto it (vv4-5). 
  • That’s how God works. You would be surprised at who or where and HOW God spreads good news through your life. 
  • More than likely it will be through the bad news times. We cannot control how we spread the Gospel. We can plan, be ready, and we should, but God has a plan that far surpasses ours. 
  • The question for you is to ask, if God evicted you out of your house, or sent you to prison or forced you to flee this area, ect…would you be one preaching the Word through it? (vv3-4) 
  • Or would you be one complaining about it? It’s hard to know except to ask, NOW, are you taking opportunities to preach the Word when times are good?

For those of you who had time to read that, I hope it encourages your heart and reminds you to live on God’s mission. Stay focused. Understand that we’re to live the Jesus kind of life where He was sent into this world, and so are we. This world is not our home. We’re on a mission for Heaven and God’s Kingdom. 

May we all live on mission together and represent Jesus well!

Sincerely love in Christ, 

Aaron

From Pastor Aaron

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