Giving to Support Missions Work
Ref: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15We welcome you the beloved of God into today’s services. We are happy to see you and thank God for each and every one of you. Our today’s topic is giving to support mission work.
Loosely defined, mission refers to a task or special assignment someone is sent to carry out. Mission is referred as the sole purpose of a church or organization. In our case today, we will refer to God’s mission.
God reveal Himself as a mission God. From the Old Testament, we see Him sending different people to carry out His mission on earth. To crown it all, He sent his own son Jesus Christ who not only carried out Christ mission but also set an example of how His followers, the church should do mission. In John 20:21, Jesus says that as my father sent me so I send you. Carrying God’s mission becomes the main and actually the business the church of Christ should be involved in. The church then exists for mission and the church that does not carry out Christ mission is dead.
In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, Paul talks about the importance of supporting mission work. In verse 8, he calls upon them to excel in their giving just as they excel in faith, speech, love and knowledge. He tells them that giving should be intentional for nobody should be forced to give. On the contrary, they should give joyfully out of their love for God and that such giving will be honored by God who will then meet our needs (Philippians 4:9) and make His grace to abound in our lives.
Therefore, let us give to support the mission of Christ as we respond to his direct command to do His mission. Let us know that supporting the mission work is not just part of our responsibility but we exist for this mission and also know that as we participate in God’s mission work, everything we spend will come back in abundance as we read in Luke 6:38—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured to our laps.
DISCIPLESHIP: The Cost of Commitment
In Christian understanding, discipleship is the process of making someone to become Christlike. In Ephesians 4:11-13 we read “It is he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be Evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”.
The purpose of Christian discipleship is to produce or to make men and women whose agenda in life is not only to reflect the image of God, but to always do, speak and think in such manner that God is known and glorified. A true disciple of Jesus Christ is not just involved in church work, but committed to take up his own cross and follow Christ to the end, (see Luke 9:23-27). But why is turning a follower into Christ’s disciple important? The word disciple occurs in the New Testament 269 times (some versions have 261), Christian only 3 times and believers 2 times. What this means is that the business of the church, the task of individual members is to make disciples. Jesus commissioned the apostles with these words, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. …” Mathew 28:19-20a.
According to J. Oswald Sanders, the word disciple means “a leaner”. In Scripture this refers to “a leaner” or pupil who accepts the teaching of Christ, not only in belief but also in lifestyle. It means learning with a determination to obey what is learned. It involves a deliberate choice, a definite denial, and devoted obedience. Of importance to note is the fact that not all followers are believers and not all believers are Disciples of Christ (see Luke 14:25-33).
In summary I would say, firstly, Christian discipleship is a process. It is a journey of faith in God, and the willingness to learn from him with a resolve to be like him. This process sometimes have obstacles, rejection, pain, insults, suffering of many kind, but the disciple of Christ will always focus on his master and hold on to his promise of deliverance. There is no instant discipleship (see John 6:66). Jesus did not promise his disciples life without challenges, he however promised to be with them to the end (see Mathew 28:20). Secondly, a true disciple of Christ accepts the word of God and commits to share the same with others.
The good news of God’s salvation is not to be kept to self (see Acts 1:8). Finally, in discipleship, we seek to grow in Christ, by the help of the Holy Spirit who resides in us, to help us overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more like Christ. To win souls for Christ, to train them in the ways of God and to send them out into the field to win more souls is a classic definition of Christian Discipleship.
EVANGELISM: GO AND TELL
Because the name Zacchaeus means 'pure,' the story of Zacchaeus might be used to highlight Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure of heart, because they shall see God." Zacchaeus' character contrasts with that of the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18:18–23. Both Zacchaeus and the Rich Young Ruler were wealthy men, but one was self-righteous and refused to give up his fortune, while the other gave half of his wealth to the needy. Zacchaeus' tale is a simple but crucial explanation of how we should approach and respond to Jesus Christ. According to tradition, Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector (Luke 19:2). Understanding how this happened is crucial to grasping the gravity of the situation.
The Jews despised tax collectors. They were Roman Empire operatives that collected levies and taxes for Caesar. They had broad powers to pursue individuals who did not pay, as well as the ability to increase their rates beyond what was required, as long as they returned the appropriate amount to Rome. Zacchaeus had amassed a considerable amount of illegitimate wealth as a result of his status. Because he was a Jew, it was a double betrayal: not only was he harming his own people, but he was also doing it as someone who had declared his allegiance to Roman sovereignty by his acts. He was nothing more than a traitor and a saboteur. But, as Jesus would shortly demonstrate, even such a guy can be redeemed.
Running was frowned upon by Jewish men, and climbing a tree was frowned upon since they would be exposed to people passing under them. Such behavior would be regarded disgraceful and unworthy of a community member. When Zacchaeus heard Jesus was approaching, he dashed ahead of the crowds and climbed a tree simply to get a glimpse of Him (Luke 19:4). Regardless of what others believed, he did what was necessary to come to God. Zacchaeus "hurried and came down," thrilled that Jesus had reached out to him (Luke 19:6), and did everything in his power to obey Him (Luke 19:7).
Through his actions, Zacchaeus demonstrated that he was ready to hear Jesus: he had to leave his taxation tables, his livelihood and a symbol of his ill-gotten money, in order to seek Jesus out. When Jesus finally spoke to Zacchaeus, he responded instantly, breaking every social taboo in the process.
What are you taking home out of this brief lesson? Go and sin no more!
PENTECOST: Empowered to Go
We thank God for enabling us to start a new month; we pray it will be fruitful to all of us.
During Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ, at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ and at Pentecost when we celebrate the birth of the Church! It would therefore be right today to say happy birthday Church!
If you go back and read the Old Testament, you will discover that Pentecost was one of the Jewish feast days. Only they didn't call it Pentecost-that's the Greek name. The Jews called it the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks.
Pentecost Sunday is a commemoration and celebration of the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the early church. John the Baptist prophesied of the first Pentecost when Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Mathew 3:11). Jesus confirmed this prophecy with the promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in John 14:26.
In Acts 1:3-8, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit, from whom they would receive power to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. We read in Acts 2 that after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the men returned to Jerusalem and joined together in prayer in an upper room. On the Day of Pentecost, just as promised, the sound of a violent wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were given the power of communication, which Peter used to begin the ministry for which Jesus had prepared him. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples did not stay in the room basking in God’s glory but burst out to tell the world. This was the beginning of the church as we know it. From this; we gather a few important things that happened on Pentecost Sunday:
1. The Promise of the Father-the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. This is a reminder that God is not only a promise giver; but He is a God who honors that which He has promised his children.
2. The once fearful disciples received Power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. This enabled them to boldly witness for Christ, the result on that day was that about three thousand souls believed in the gospel (Acts 2:41). More and more people were added to the Church as the disciples witnessed about Christ-the Holy Spirit empowered them.
3. With the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day, the Church was born. From a small group of disciples, about 120 (Acts 1:15) to the new believers who believed on that day, the Church of Christ grew and continues to grow. What started in Jerusalem has spread into the entire universe.
As we celebrate this important event in the calendar of the Church, let’s remember that the gift of the Holy Spirit is still available for us. May the Lord help us this day to be alert to His prompting; under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we are safe as a Nation even as we prepare for the general elections. Let’s depend on Him
Have a Spirit filled week. Pastoral Team
As we come to the end of the month of May, we are grateful to God for He has continued to equip us and empower us for the church ministry and the leadership of this nation. We continue to pray that God will help us to make the right choices of leadership even in the forth-coming general elections. And so today we delve into the topic ‘Empowering others’.