“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city (Luke 10:1-12 NASB).”
“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. ‘Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven (Luke 10:17-20 NASB).”
photo credit: byJoeLodge <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/93223484@N00/5412453784″>33/365 Atlas</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
“Now the Lord had said to Abram:
‘Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV).”
True, this was a call to the man Abram (Abraham). Yet, I believe parts of the call were given to each missionary serving in the foreign missionary field. Missionaries have answered the call, saying yes to Yahweh.
They have left the security of family, friends and their homeland.
In return, God has blessed them with purpose, fulfillment and impact on others.
I’m blessed to call missionaries my close friends.
Peter and John, once common fishermen…
“Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man—by what means he was healed— let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy.
This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.’ When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:8-13 HCSB).”
They stumped the religious authorities.
“What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it (Acts 4:16b HCSB)!”
Men on mission for the Messiah!
“And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31 HCSB).
photo credit: maxinepowerr <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/67777553@N02/37208212582″></a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
And I think I’ve had problems…
“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands (2 Corinthians 11:22-33 NKJV).”
Before daylight, a close knit group of faithful women began a mission of love for their departed Lord and friend. Laden with spices to anoint His body, they reverently approached His tomb. They likely discussed the problem of getting inside to perform their task. The large stone sealing His tomb created a barrier they needed to overcome.
The sight of His open tomb caught them by surprise. The stone lay off to the side, giving complete access to the burial place (that had been given by a wealthy Council member). The kindness of Christ follower Joseph of Arimathea did not go unnoticed.
The women humbly entered the tomb and discovered the tomb was empty; Jesus no longer occupied the grave!
Suddenly, they encountered two men in radiant clothing. The natural reaction of fright gripped the women; in awe, they fell to the ground.
The men asked a penetrating question, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead (Luke 24:5b NAS)?”
The messenger continued, “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again (Luke 24:6-7 NAS).”
Yes, they remembered Jesus telling them of his death and resurrection. To rise again? That had not seemed possible. Alive? They saw Him die! Three days had passed since His lifeless body had been sealed inside the tomb…
The morning skies brightened. Hearts cold with grief now pulsed with hope and joy.
Culture, tradition and prejudice prevailed. Women held few places of influence. Against all odds, women were the recipients of the angel’s resurrection announcement. Matthew said, “And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to his disciples (Matthew 28:8 NAS).”
Catch sight of frail women lifting their skirts and breathlessly running to tell Jesus’ disciples.
Before carrying out their mission, they came face-to-face with Christ. He encouraged the women and gave them His personal message. “Do not be afraid; go and take word to my brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see me (Matthew 28: 10 NAS)”
*Women were first to see the open tomb.
*Women were first to hear of His resurrection.
*Women were first to see the risen Redeemer.
*Women were first to carry the Gospel message. Jesus lives; He conquered death.
The disciples rejected their message.
“And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them (Luke 24: 11 NAS).”
Jesus later appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body.
Proof cancelled out rejection.
He lives and He is coming again!
I live in an area that is predominately agricultural.
Farmers, families, and friends depend on crops to keep money in circulation. We all talk about the weather. In times of summer drought, we talk more.
Christ Jesus compared the lost and dying to a harvest.
In our churches, pastors and congregations talk about the lost. In times of dwindling numbers and apostasy, we talk more.
“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:1-2 NKJ).”
I did not recall The Threepenny Opera, but it birthed the song Mack the Knife which became a popular recording for Louis Armstrong and a #1 hit record for Bobby Darin in 1959. I sang along to lyrics with little thought to the meaning of the song. Today, the title is a springboard to someone I knew and loved.
Mac the Sword, Reverend Mac Forbes served the Lord as a dedicated pastor up until the time of his death, wielding the word of God as a tool of testimony. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17 NAS).” He stood upon the bedrock authority of God’s infallible word as he humbly filled the pulpit answering God’s calling to preach Jesus crucified, buried and resurrected.
Brother Mac loved his Lord and shared that love with those he met as freely as the forgiveness of sin he had received. His warm smile and Alabama southern drawl had a way of soothing a soul and stirring a hungry heart. Mac stood on his convictions and saw potential in young men in his midst. Through his influence and mentoring, Alabama has a group characterized as Mac’s preacher boys, who carry on in his footsteps.
He once served in Pioneer Missions work in New York State, not very far from my birthplace and we shared a love for the people in the central New York State rural areas. He told the story of leaving that productive work following a heart attack, returning to Alabama with his wife and children to ease his beloved’s concerns. Part of his heart remained in the Empire State…
“Mac, I’ll never forget you and hope to be worthy of our Lord as I live by the power of the sword.”
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NAS).”