Friday, April 7, 2017

Connect 2017--Skip Heitzig

Skip Heitzig, SP board member and pastor of Calvary of Albuquerque, brought our Friday morning devotions --

There is one text this conference has been built on—Matthew 28:18-20 – The Great Commission.  In Acts 1:8 Jesus speaking again said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you….”

In the 1960s there was a program called Mission Impossible that was comprised of a small elite group of special agents called the IMF—Impossible Missions Force.  Every episode began with a set of instructions on a tiny audio tape that said, “Your mission, should you decide to accept it….this tape will self destruct in 5 seconds.”

This team was sent around the world on a mission they could accept or not accept.  Our mission is the Great Commission that we can accept or not accept.

When I first heard the term ‘missions’ as a child it did not sound adventurous or fun. As a Catholic our mission was The Pagan Babies Fund – you could adopt a child for $10 (they called it saving a child) and for another $10 you could name that child.

After I came to know the Lord I saw the adventure in missions.  We call it missions but Jesus calls it ‘fishing’ – fishers of men.  I’m not much of a fisherman; if I catch something it’s by luck.  I discovered the best places to go fishing are sometimes the hardest ones to get to and the most dangerous ones to be at.  If you ask a fisherman if he’d rather go to where everyone is fishing or where there are many fish, he wants to go where the fish are. 

The churches who don’t evangelize will eventually fossilize.  Our mission is global. There are a few reasons why we need to take the gospel around the world. 

Reasons we need to take the gospel around the world—
1)  The Character of God – God is a sending God. He told Abraham to go so the nations could be blessed.  That’s the ultimate purpose of missions—to bless the world through Jesus.  The tragedy of the Old Testament is that God’s people forgot their mandate.  Isaiah told the Jews they’d be a light to the Gentiles.

--Jesus Himself was a missionary – “Came to seek and to save the lost” – God had only one Son and He was a missionary, a missionary doctor. God sent His Son on a cross-cultural mission.  Imagine the culture shock of leaving heaven and coming to earth.  If you want to follow Jesus you must follow Him to the ends of the earth because that’s where He is going.

--The Holy Spirit is all about missions – beginning in Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and uttermost parts of the earth.  In Acts the H.S. is mentioned 60 times and it’s all about sending people to the ends of the earth.  Acts 13 begins Paul’s first of 3 missionary journeys.

Missions is the “family business”.  God put us in His family and wants us in the family business.  Book—“Why Churches Die”—Hollis Green  1) When converts do not become disciples and 2): when disciples do not become apostles. 

2)  The Condition of the Harvest – all around the world people are broken and looking for hope.  Jesus was moved by compassion for the crowds because they were scattered as sheep without a shepherd. …. Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers.  Jesus saw a crowd differently than most of us do.  We want to get out of the traffic to the front of the line.  Evangelism begins with learning to see people the right way.  Jesus saw their inward condition and was moved to compassion. 
Leading a person to Christ begins with looking at a person like Christ would.  You can take every unbeliever and line them up and it would go around the earth 30 times and that line is growing by 20 miles every day.  This is inot the time for the church to turn inward but to turn outward.  The Church is the only organization that exists for the benefit of non-members.

      3) The Commission of Jesus Christ --  Jesus told the church to ‘go’ instead of telling the world to ‘come’.  Start with your own area and go out to the uttermost parts of the earth.  On my way to India a woman asked me why I was taking a western religion to an eastern country.  I asked her if she knew the gospel started in the Middle East. 

One rock star said missions is the height of religious arrogance.  That may be politically correct but it is spiritually incorrect.  The gospel is for ALL the world. The angels over Bethlehem said the good news was for ALL people.  Jesus said “God so loved the WORLD” not just the west.

If a person has leprosy or another medical condition the treatment is the same universally and the gospel is the universal cure for sin for all people.  God has the cure and the doctor says, “Go into all the world.”

4)    Because of the Coming Judgment --  Acts 8:9 – as Jesus was taken up two men stood by Him in white apparel and said,  “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up…this same Jesus will return as you see Him go into heaven.”  Between His first coming and His second coming we have a limited amount of time to tell the world this lifesaving message.  When Jesus comes again it will be a time of judgment. 

Jesus had compassion because He could see the ultimate consequence of their unbelief and we have a limited time to make an impact.  I would compare the world to a sinking ship.  The captain knows it’s going down but the passengers do not.  The captain (Satan) gives us perks and people think they have a wonderful captain but they don’t know they’ll soon be dead. 

At the end of the Mission Impossible intro it said this tape will self-destruct.  God tells us this world will self-destruct but while we wait for His return the fishing is really good out there.  Next time you see a bumper sticker that says, “I’d rather be fishing,” stop and say to yourself “me too” and ask God to send you and use you.

Thank you for taking that commission and using your influence to spread the gospel to children and families because you decided to say “Send me.  I want to fish for men’s souls.”

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