Today we‘re continuing our message series called “Beyond Borders.” In this series, we’re talking about missions. Missions is going and making disciples of Jesus. So, every believer is to be a missionary, right where they are. Yet, God calls some believers to be missionaries in distant lands. We can support those missionaries through prayer and giving.
Today, let’s look at short video of Assembly of God missionaries in the closed country of Morocco. The video is called “Growth in the Desert.” Sometimes we complain that being a witness in America is too difficult. Yet, we’ve just seen an example of missionaries reaching people for Jesus in a country where evangelism and church planting is outlawed. Watching stories of modern day missionaries should encourage us to be bold witnesses for Jesus right where we are.
Proverbs 28:1 (ESV) The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
God calls us to be bold as lions in telling people about Jesus and inviting them to our church family. We are not facing persecution, imprisonment, death or even breaking laws to be a witness. So, let’s make good use of the freedom we have, while we still have it.
Today, our message is entitled “Why God Blesses.” What is a blessing? A blessing is a good gift from God.
James 1:17a (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights …
In America, we’ve been blessed in many ways. We have been blessed materially. While 77% of the world lives on less than $10/day,[i] only 5% of Americans live with that low income.[ii] We’ve been blessed with freedom of religion, freedom of speech and a democratic government. Why has America been blessed? Will our blessing continue forever? To answer those questions, we must ask Who does God bless?
Deuteronomy 11:26-28a (ESV) “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God,
God has blessed America because it was founded on biblical principles. Yet, if America continues to stray away from those principles, the blessing will fade and be replaced by God’s judgement. As God blesses nations, who walk in His ways, so He blesses believers who walk in obedience. Yet, our main question today is Why does God bless? We’re going to see that God blesses for a reason. God has a purpose behind His blessing. Those who want to walk in blessing and increase in blessing, must understand and follow God’s purpose. So, let’s begin with a story about someone who is arguably the first missionary described in the Bible. God gave him a command which is true of every missionary and true for us today.
Genesis 12:1 (ESV) Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country …
When the Lord called Abram when he was living in Ur of the Chaldeans in modern-day Iraq to Haran in modern-day Turkey. He lived there until his father Terah passed away. So, now at age 75, God was calling Abram to go from his home in Haran, from his country and journey again to a new home, hundreds of miles away. This command was not something that Abram asked for, it was simply God’s plan and purpose for Abram and his family. It was not an easy command to go, for …
Genesis 12:1 (ESV) Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
When one goes, one also leaves important things behind. In this case, Abram was leaving behind his country, his relatives and the house in which his father had recently passed away in. The future for Abram was uncertain, for he was heading for an unknown destination, which the Lord would show to him. Yet, God’s command to Abram is similar to the command that God gives to every believer. Which is to go and …
Matthew 4:19-20 (ESV) And he [Jesus] said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
In Matthew 4, we see Jesus calling his disciples to go and follow him. These disciples were fishermen. In order to go and follow Jesus, they would have to leave their old life behind. In fact, they would have to leave their old occupations behind. So, we see that those disciples did not hesitate at Jesus’ command, but immediately left their old lives and began to follow Jesus.
Today, God calls believers to be missionaries to other countries, leaving their own country behind. The Spencers and their children are AG missionaries who have spoken here. God called them from their work in Missouri, they are now in France learning a new language. Preparing to be missionaries in the Congo in Africa. But God also calls each believer, as He called His first disciples, to be missionaries right where they are. In order to go and do something new, you’ve got to leave other things behind. God calls every believer to be a fisher of men. A fisher of men simply indicates that you are being a witness for Jesus to see people saved and added to the church. One easy, practical way to be a fisher of men is as a Facebook missionary. Yes, you can be a Facebook missionary and today, I’m going to show you how to get started.
If you have a smart phone with you, take it out and follow along with me. If you don’t have a Facebook account, maybe you should create one. As you’ll see today, it’s an easy, quick way to share God’s truth with friends, relatives and strangers. In your bulletin is a handout called “Be a Facebook Missionary.” Let’s go through some very simple instructions that will help you be a witness on Facebook and will help Facebook show the church posts to more people. It’s one simple way to obey God’s command to go. For when God calls believers to go …
Genesis 12:4-5 (ESV) So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.
Abram didn’t argue with God, even though God was asking for a great sacrifice. He had already moved from Ur to Haran and now needed to move from Haran to Canaan at a fairly advanced age of 75. Abram simply chose to obey God and go, not knowing where he was going or how it would all work out. Along with God’s command was also a promise. For when there is great obedience …
Genesis 12:2a (ESV) And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great …
God promised Abram that if he obeyed and went, God would make him a great nation. Now, we know from the rest of the story that Abram had no children. How could he become a great nation? He would need a miracle. Not only would Abram become a great nation, God would bless him and make Abram’s name great. Here we are thousands of years later, talking about Abram, as a great hero of the faith prominently mentioned in Hebrews 11. Obedience then is a result of faith in God and His Word.
Galatians 3:9 (ESV) So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
First of all, this verse tells us that Abram, later named by God to Abraham, was a man of faith. The we learn that as he believed God’s Word and obeyed it, he was blessed. When you today, by faith, obey God and go at His bidding, you also are blessed. To be blessed is to receive God’s good gifts in your life.
Last week we talked about the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, which begins with the command “Go and make disciples.” In Abram’s case and in world missionaries, such as the Moroccan missionary, going involved physical moving to another country. God doesn’t call everyone to physically relocate. So, how can we go beyond St. Louis if we can’t go physically?
We can go by giving of our resources. It takes a great deal of finances to support missionaries and their ministries in foreign countries. So, by financially supporting missions, we can assist and enter into their going to foreign lands with the Gospel. We give to support missionaries intentionally and with faith. As we give our offering to missions, over and above our tithe, we believe that God will use it to reach lost people. And we believe that He will bless us and our church in return, so we can reach more people right here in St. Louis. Later in this series, we’re going to be talking about making faith promises for missions giving as an expression of our obedience to God’s call. But now, let’s answer the question “Why does God bless obedience?”
Genesis 12:2b-3 (ESV) … I will bless you [Abram] and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God’s purpose in blessing Abram was not simply for Abram to accumulate and enjoy all kinds of blessing. God’s purpose in blessing Abram was so that Abram could be a blessing. Remember that we defined blessing as receiving good gifts from God. Blessing others is giving the good gifts that we have received from God to others. Jesus Christ was one of Abraham’s descendants and thus through Him all the nations of the earth were blessed. When we are blessed, we must …
Genesis 12:7 (ESV) Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
When Abram arrived in Canaan, the land was not empty, it was occupied by pagan Canaanites. Yet, God promised the land to Abram’s descendants, who would ultimately conquer the land. Abram’s response to God’s blessing was to build an altar and worship the Lord. He acknowledged that everything he had was a gift, a blessing from God.
Galatians 3:14 (ESV) … in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
What is the blessing of Abraham that we are to receive? It is the promised Holy Spirit, who is received through faith. The promise of the Father is according to Jesus the baptism in the Spirit. The baptism in the Spirit is not automatic on salvation, it must be received through faith. When you receive the blessing of the Spirit, you receive power to …
Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So, you see how the blessing of the Spirit enables God’s promise to Abraham to be fulfilled. The Spirit is how all the families of the earth will be blessed. As believers are empowered by the Spirit to be witnesses and see the lost saved, the Gospel will spread and bless the ends of the earth. God blesses so that we can be a blessing.
How is the blessing to others released? We have already talked about going, giving and lastly we’ll talk about praying. Prayer releases God’s blessing to the world as we pray for world missionaries, to America as we pray for US missionaries and to St. Louis as we pray for our church and other AG churches right in our city. Next week we have our Prayer & Praise night on the third Wednesday of the month at 7 pm. I would like to encourage you to go, from your home to the church on Wednesday night October 18 to join with us in prayer. When you pray for God’s mission in our world to be fulfilled, you are praying blessing on others.
When you bless others, through prayer or going or giving, how does God respond? The Bible tells us that He will respond with more blessing. Why? Because He knows that He can trust you not just to hoard your blessing but to use it to bless others.
God calls every believer to go to reach the lost. As we obey, He brings blessing into our lives. The blessing of God in our lives can take many forms. God blesses us with financial resources, possessions, time, family, jobs and the list could go on and on. God blesses us so that we can use that blessing to bless others. The greatest blessing you can bless another person with is to tell them about Jesus. We bless others by going, giving and praying. As you are faithful to bless others with the blessing you have received, God will in turn pour more blessing into your life, so that you can continue to be a blessing.
[ii] Rakesh Kochhar, “Mapping the Global Population: How Many Live on How Much, and Where,” Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, July 8, 2015, http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/07/08/mapping-the-global-population-how-many-live-on-how-much-and-where/.