Sunday, April 18, 2004

How Big Is Your World

Intro: Two hundred years ago in a ministers' meeting in Nottingham, England, a bi-vocational pastor named William Carey was invited to suggest a discussion subject for the group of ministers. Rev. Carey had been reading James Cook's Voyages Around the World. These travelogue books recounted the global travels of Captain Cook. As Carey read them, he became burdened by the spiritual condition of those peoples Cook had visited. So, that day in the late 1700's, Rev. Carey suggested that the ministers talk about "the duty of Christians to attempt the spread of the gospel among heathen nations." Carey was stunned when the leader of the meeting stopped him. In an agitated voice the moderator said: "Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine." Fortunately, William Carey did not listen to that church leader. Some friends helped him start the English Baptist Missionary Society and under its auspices in 1793 he sailed for India. Up until that time, the 200-year-old Protestant movement had done very little cross-cultural missionary outreach. Now, Carey's efforts so awakened Protestantism to its missionary responsibilities that he is now called the "Father of Modern Missions." Jonah would not have gotten along too well with William Carey. Pray Tran.: Missions is rooted in the history of methodism. John Wesley was a missionary to Georgia - even before he was converted. Thomas Coke is known as the "Father of Methodist Missions" Under the direction of John Wesley and Francis Asbury, he did missionary work in America, the West Indies, England and Ireland. Let me suggest three key truths that drove the early Methodists and us to be involved in the missionary movement. I. God loves the world. John 3:16 A. I could really skip this point except for two key points - there are two times when it becomes real easy to forget this key truth. 1. First - when things are really going bad. When it seems like everything is going wrong, when life is the pits. There are times in all of our lives when it seems like everything is going astray - we can't do anything right. It is at those times that we need a reminder that God does love us - as well as the rest of the world. 2. But there is another time when we need to be reminded of God's love - that is when things are going well. I mean, when things are going well, I know that I have done all right. I can be pretty proud of myself and pat myself on the back. And I may need to take a step back from all that is happening and be reminded - God loves me. B. But this is really not the point. God's love does not stop with me or with you - it extends to everyone. God does love the homeless, God does love those from other countries. (Appl.) God does love _________ - you fill in the blank with whoever you think is less deserving of your love. Take a minute - who that you know of, who in you life, is least likely to know God's love. The person who is difficult to get along with at work? The neighbor kid down the street that gets into your garden every year, the crankiest guy at the gas station who you always hope is not there when you drive in? I don't know who it is in your life - but you do. The next time you see them. Remember this - God does love them. C. And it is in this fact that the idea of Christian missions is rooted - God loves the whole world. II. The Church is God's Ambassador II Corinthians 5:20 (Ill.) I grew up with Shirley Temple movies. Do you remember Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Heidi. Or perhaps you remember her signature song, The Good Ship Lollipop. As a child, her acting and singing skills allowed her to visit with royality and presidents from around the world. But even more impressive to me is the fact that she was appointed as an ambassador to the UN in 1969 by President Nixon; in 1974, President Ford appointed her as ambassador to Ghana; and in 1989, President Bush (the first one) appointed her as ambassador to Czechoslovakia. Whether as a child or as an adult, she never stopped being an ambassador. A. The church is called to be Christ's ambassadors to the world. Paul writes, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." [2 Corinthians 5:17-20 WEB] B. I am no politician, but it seems to me that an ambassador has two primary responsibilities - the first is to listen to the one who is doing the sending. He or she had better have a good idea of what the government needs and requires. We are Christ's ambassadors. C. The other task is take that message and deliver it accurately to those who are to receive it. And the gospel is supposed to go everywhere - and to a certain extent we can do that. There are our neighbors and co-workers, our families and our communities. But our world is much larger than just our work, neighborhood, and families. And the church is called to be Christ's ambassadors to the whole world. D. So now you will all have to pack your bags and go -- E. No, that will not really work; so the church began to send missionaries to spread the good news of God's saving grace. III. As "citizens of heaven" we are responsible for God's ambassadors Philippians 3:20 A. An ambassador represents a countries leaders - but it also represents its citizens. (Appl.) We are given the responsibility and the privilege of caring for those ambassadors that God has placed around the world. We can do that by becoming missionary supporter. This involves Prayer, Learning, and Giving 1. Prayer must be the starting point 2.We will also want to learn about the world in which the gospel is being spread. 3.The third part of supporting world missions is giving As we make our offering each morning - it is used in support of our church - but a part of it is also used to support God's work around the world. B. There are those who are called to go - maybe one of you might be challenged to use your gifts on the mission field - whether for a week or for the remainder of your life. Or maybe one of the kids that we saw in front of us this morning. Begin praying now for the next generation that will spread the gospel around the world. C. We may not be called to go - but we can actively support God's work around the world - whether it be here in Brockport or on the other side of the world. Conclusion: God does love the world The church is God's ambassadors And we, even as members of the Garland church can be participants in the missionary work of the church

No comments: