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#1: God's People on the Mission of God
I still get a chuckle out of the old movie The Blues Brothers. In that movie, Dan Aykroyd (Elwood) and John Belushi (Jake) are on a “mission from God.” They need to raise money to keep the orphanage where they were raised from closing. They will do this by getting “the band” back together and doing gigs. They face crazy odds against succeeding, but they believe in their mission and they persevere. And, just maybe, a little heavenly serendipity helps them out along the way!
God is a Missional God. That means God is always on mission. God is always reaching out. God is always acting on the behalf of others. God is always loving others. God is always working his will and purposes in human history.
Because God is a Missional God, then the people of God must be a Missional People. Missional God -> Missional People. Therefore, the people of God must act in the ways of our Missional God.
Last week you read the story in Genesis 12 where Abram was blessed to be a blessing to the world. Now, God rescues Israel from captivity to make them a great nation—a Missional Nation.
READ Exodus 19:3–6 and Psalm 67 (all seven verses).
REFLECT on how little, persecuted, suffering Israel must have wrestled with this call to bless the nations around them. It would not be an automatic or natural thing to be a missional people. Not much has changed for us today has it?
CONSIDER: Why is it so hard for God’s people to be missional?. Come up with a short list of three to five reasons why it is hard to be missional.
This next thought is extremely important. Let’s add to our missional formula. Missional God Missional People Missional YOU
ASSESS YOURSELF: As a part of God’s missional people, you are called to be missional! Look at the description list of a missional friend of Jesus. Which ones describe you currently? Which ones will you seek to incorporate into your life as a follower-friend of the Missional Messiah?
#2 A Failed Mission and a Renewed Mission
Israel failed—miserably! They failed in just about every way imaginable. They were called by God, loved by God, and empowered by God to be a “display people.” They were to showcase to the world what it means to be in a profound and transformational relationship with the Creator God. But they rejected the mission. They ignored their calling. They failed to cultivate a new heart. They fell tragically short in representing to the nations the true character of the One True God.
But God would not let their failure be the end of his mission. The Old Testament is the story of God’s plan to use Israel as a light to the nations, Israel’s failure, and God’s plan for renewal.
READ ABOUT that renewal plan in Zechariah 8. Read the entire chapter, but focus on verses 20–23.
CORE QUESTION: Why is the way of God (then through Israel and now through the church) attractive? Why is God of interest to people? And what works against that attraction and interest?
DEVELOP a core list of essential qualities a missional people must have, that will give the nations a true image of the true God. As you do this, think about Living Word and think about yourself. How are we doing with this? How are you doing with this?
#3 Jesus, A Harvest of Hurt, and a Ministry of Hope
For a refresher on the essential mission of Jesus, re-read Luke 4:18–21 and Mark 1:14–15. In the person and presence of Jesus, the Kingdom of God has broken into our world. The life and love of God are already making all things new through Jesus.
Jesus calls, teaches, and trains an initial group of twelve (and another 120) missional friends to be with him and to be sent out by him (Mark 3:13–19).
READ Matthew 9:27–10:8. Take note of what Jesus is doing, the people Jesus is helping, the conclusion Jesus reaches, and the decision Jesus makes. In particular, what do you learn about the “harvest” (i.e., mission field)?
SEE THE GLOBAL HARVEST: Make a core list of the ways our world is hurting. As you do, remember the missional people of God are still called to help those with hurting hearts.
NOTE: Living Word goes to places in the world where people really hurt and where little help is available. These are some of the “least of these.” Our Global Ministry wants to help these hurting hearts who matter so much to Jesus. We need you to help us do the work of Jesus.
The mission of Jesus changes. During his primary 3 years of mission, Jesus had as his main focus the nation of Israel. Jesus never traveled outside Israel for his mission. He initially kept his disciples centralized within Israel (Matthew 10:5–6). But that would all change after his resurrection.
READ Matthew 28:16–20 and Acts 1:8. What is the new missional field of hurting hearts that is assigned to us?
#4 Enter the Church (and Acts 29)
In Introducing Christian Mission Today, Michael Goheen says, “Israel’s role is to be a light to the nations, to live their lives in such a way that the nations sees the true and living God and are attracted to their lives and to their God.”
It is the Apostle Peter, the most Jewish of the followers of Jesus, who describes the new Israel in his first letter.
READ & STUDY 1 Peter 2:1–12.
What are the phrases and images Peter uses to describe the church?
How does Peter describe the morality or virtue of the church? Why is this character component of the church so vital for mission?
In this passage, Peter uses rich and symbolic language, once reserved exclusively for the nation of Israel, and applies it to the newly formed church. Here is how God’s redemptive plan has unfolded. To reverse the fall and renew the world:
- God called the nation Israel; Israel failed.
- God sent his Son Jesus to do what Israel could not do.
- Jesus established a new body of people, including Jews and Gentiles, to be a Missional Church.
- The missional story of the early church is told in Acts 1–28.
- The ongoing missional story of the church is Acts 29. That’s right. There is no Acts 29 in the Bible. Acts 29 is an unending chapter!
Living Word is part of Acts 29. At Living Word we know we are called to be the missional friends of Jesus, doing our part and participating in the Greater Things of John 14:11–14.
This is a high privilege, a great blessing, and a real responsibility. Together, we will pray, worship, study Scripture, be a community of grace, experience deep transformation, and ALWAYS serve the purposes of God in our time and our location.
JOIN US ON THIS MISSION FROM GOD.
Are you a missional friend of Jesus?Use the following list to assess how you are doing.
Missional Friends of Jesus...
- Love the world, all the world, all the peoples of the world. They do not live in isolation. They do not hate or fear the people of the world. They love like God loves (John 3:16; Matthew 5:9–12, 43–48).
- Read and study the missional Scriptures. The Bible is a book that tells the millennium-long story of God’s love for the world. We find the story of the nations from Genesis through Revelation. We are thrilled and enthralled with the message of Revelation 5:6–14. All the nations and people are in heaven worshipping Jesus.
- Are generous with their resources to fund the missional work of God (2 Corinthians 8 and 9). We do this locally through our General Fund, but we do it globally through our Greater Things commitment. If you are new to supporting Global Missions at Living Word, join in for a year. Take the plunge. Make a commitment. Be a part of the people who make beautiful things possible through our generous giving to God’s global purposes. Click the Greater Things link on our website.
- Pray for the world. We pray for our missional family we support. We pray without ceasing, using Ephesians 6:18–20 as our guide. Contact Pastor John for monthly resources to help you pray for our missional work.
- Get to know those working around the world. We build relationships with them. Going on short-term mission trips is a great way to meet our missional workers and the people they work among. For more information on short-term trips and about the team we support around the world, contact Pastor John Hilliard.
- Find new ways to grow in their commitment. They read good books on mission, pay attention to the world news, attend missional events, hang out with other missional friends, accept local responsibility to do the work of Jesus in our own community, and always seek to be a blessing for the sake of others.
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