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On Mission: Here and Now

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1 John 3:16–18 NASB95
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
Trying to accomplish a job without having a plan in place is a plan for failure.
There’s nothing worse than a mission without a plan. It’s one thing to have a vague concept or idea, but having a clear plan of execution is a different thing altogether.
Whether it’s remodeling a portion of your house or planning out your next vacation, a plan is critical to take an idle dream to completion of any worthwhile project.
You might know that you need to remodel that leaky bathroom downstairs or put together a memorable date night to celebrate your fifteenth wedding anniversary. Anyone can see a task that needs to be done. Idle dreamers can imagine the fruits of their finished projects while they drift off to sleep each night. Most people dream; few plan and execute.
You might know that you need to remodel that leaky bathroom downstairs or put together a memorable date night to celebrate your fifteenth wedding anniversary. Anyone can see a task that needs to be done. Idle dreamers can imagine the fruits of their finished projects while they drift off to sleep each night. Most people dream; few plan and execute.
The same holds true for God’s people in His church.
Most Christians open affirm the mission of evangelizing the lost and discipling them to spiritual maturity.
But there’s often a big difference between understanding and affirming the goal of missions in the church and acting upon a plan of action to reach such worthwhile goals. What is required is that God’s people take personal responsibility for reaching these goals.
I would say that this church is better than most in laying out such a plan as our plan to fulfill our promises to give to the annual mission offerings.
Acts 1:8 NASB95
8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Fund
This fund is a plan for church members to give monthly to missions by designating their funds to the fund. If it were not for this fund, then we as a church would likely struggle every year to meet our goals like many churches do every year. But since we have set up this fund, we have met and exceeded our goals regularly.
Many churches struggle with this yearly.

Now and Then

Now and Then

It wouldn’t be hard for us to imagine that we live in a modern time where apathy and passivity toward God’s mission can be blamed on millenials or, as my father might have said it, “these kids today.”
When we look at the early church on the pages of scripture, we notice the exponential growth and we automatically think that the early believers were just more blessed or somehow different than we are today.
But the case can be clearly made that the early believers had exactly the same Holy Spirit that we have today. And they each had the same carnal flesh and sinful temptations that we endure today. It would have been just as easy for them to squander God’s same mission that we have been entrusted with today.
The Early church faced a culture steeped in paganism, while our culture is enthralled with humanism.
The stakes were high in the first century. The young Church faced a culture steeped in paganism and violently repulsed by the claims of the gospel. Today’s Church faces a similar challenge. The Church has been marginalized to the fringes of society and spiritual forces war against the spread of the gospel. Some 269 million people across North America are disconnected from a relationship with God and His Church. Yet, hundreds of churches close their doors every year. In most cities, the lost population continues to grow exponentially while the growth of the Church lags far behind. It’s time for the Church to act!
The Early church was repulsed by the claims of the gospel, while our culture is repulsed by any suggestion that they might fall short of perfection.
Today’s Church faces a similar challenge. The Church has been marginalized to the fringes of society and spiritual forces continue to war against the spread of the gospel.
and violently repulsed by the claims of the gospel. Today’s Church faces a similar challenge. The Church has been marginalized to the fringes of society and spiritual forces war against the spread of the gospel. Some 269 million people across North America are disconnected from a relationship with God and His Church. Yet, hundreds of churches close their doors every year. In most cities, the lost population continues to grow exponentially while the growth of the Church lags far behind. It’s time for the Church to act!
Today’s Church faces a similar challenge. The Church has been marginalized to the fringes of society and spiritual forces war against the spread of the gospel. Some 269 million people across North America are disconnected from a relationship with God and His Church. Yet, hundreds of churches close their doors every year. In most cities, the lost population continues to grow exponentially while the growth of the Church lags far behind. It’s time for the Church to act!
There are currently some 269 million people across North America who are disconnected from a relationship with God and His Church. Yet, hundreds of churches close their doors every year.
It’s time for the Church to act!
The letters of 1, 2 and 3 John were sent to various Christian communities in the latter part of the first century during a time when the Church faced severe opposition through external persecution and internal false teaching.
Those factors would have made it easy to abandon God’s mission to declare and demonstrate the gospel to the ends of the earth.
John’s challenge the Church rejected a survival mindset and called the Church to active engagement in the mission of God regardless of the cost.

I. The Need to Pursue

1 John 3:18 NASB95
18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
What John is saying in today’s language is this...
Don’t just give lip service to love, but put love in action!
Love is John’s plan for executing the mission of God.
But we humans live in a fallen state. We are not capable of sacrificial love on our own strength.
1 John 3:16 NASB95
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
But we have a perfect example… one to aspire to. Back in verse 16 we are reminded that Jesus (our perfect role model) gave that kind of love for us and has asked us to love others as he himself has love us.
But we have a perfect example… one to aspire to. Back in verse 16
Since we are recipients of this love, it is therefore possible for us to practice something that is not in our nature.
Notice that back in verse 16, John bases his call on the fact that all of those who are saved by God have received the type of love he is calling them to embody. Jesus demonstrated the extent of the love of God by willingly laying down His life to save sinners. Those who have received this love must love others.
I know some Christians that say, “I’m just not very compassionate.”
But love is not an optional add-on for us. Love is one of the fruit of the Spirit. That means if we have the Spirit in us, then we will be exhibiting this fruit more and more each day. We begin to represent God’s character more and more each day. We begin to love others just as Christ loves us.
Seen in this light, love is not an optional add-on for the Christian. We cannot refrain from loving others since love is a fruit of God’s Spirit () and a representation of God’s character (). We must love.
Our fallen world is desperately in need of love.
We all encounter people daily who are crushed under the weight of this broken world.
marriages are falling apart
addictions trap people in sin
poor health and illness remind us that death is imminent
Many wonder how they have the strength to face another day. And some give up altogether.
Even those who aren’t currently confronted by such life-altering issues face the reality that life is far from perfect.
The love that we have… Christian love... is the answer to this desperate condition that our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers live with each day.
As we look out across the hurt and despair of our nation, it’s clear that many are in need of this type of active love.
As we look out across the hurt and despair of our nation, it’s clear that many are in need of this type of active love. And every year, missionaries are commissioned by the North American Mission Board to do just that; they demonstrate this love by bringing the gospel to those who need it most.
We have a gift of love for these who are so desperate for it without knowing the solution.
We merely are required to give that love away by bringing the gospel to those who need it most.

II. The Negative to Avoid

John’s warning is that we not just merely talk about love, but act on it. Of course nobody will argue that fact… at least not out loud. Love is absolutely a hallmark of the Christian faith.
The Fruit of the Spirit
They shall know we are Christians by our love… by our love.
But people are prone to superficial love—the type that talks a lot about it, but does nothing to actually bless or benefit others.
But people are prone to superficial love—the type that talks a good game, but does nothing to actually bless or benefit others. Love is certainly not less than words or speech. It is far more.
Give this a try...
try loving your spouse with words alone and let me know how that goes for you.
A father whose life revolves around his work or hobbies, but fails to take part in his children’s life and activities is known to be a bad dad. He’ll be hard-pressed to convince anyone that his love is genuine.
All human relationships model this reality. Try loving your spouse or your children with words alone, and see how that goes. A dad can say that he loves his family, but if his life revolves around his work and his hobbies, then he’s going to be hard-pressed to convince anyone that his love is genuine. Words of love that are not matched by actions of love are hollow.
The church is exactly the same. We can proclaim lofty words of love while neglecting the humbling acts of service that are required to give those words any weight. An increasingly skeptical world isn’t impressed by our words; they are watching to see if those words shape our actions.
It’s easy for God’s church to proclaim lofty words of love while neglecting the humbling acts of service that are required to give those words any weight. An increasingly skeptical world isn’t impressed by our words; they are watching to see if those words shape our actions.

III. The Name to Honor

Love allows God’s church to imitate their Savior and demonstrate the type of love the Church has been shown through Christ.
Jesús hizo este mismo punto en su famoso Sermón del Monte.
Jesus made this same point in His famous Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:16 NASB95
16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Take note of the very critical transition that happens here:
Jesus challenges His followers to let their light shine so that others can see their good works, so that others would give glory to God.
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (). It’s interesting to note the very critical transition that happens here. Jesus challenges His followers to let their light shine so that others can see their good works, so that others would give glory to God. It’s our works, but it’s God’s glory. This is the point of active love. People are meant to see the love of the church in such a way that points their attention and their affection to the God who demonstrated this love and continues to empower His people to show such love.
PRINCIPLE Our works —> God’s glory.
This is the whole point of active love. People are meant to see the love of the church in such a way that points their attention and their affection to the God who demonstrated this love and continues to empower His people to show such love.

Application of Active Love

This message needs to be heard time and again by churches through history.
Today, the Church in North America faces an onslaught of forces that are attempting to discredit and derail it from God’s mission.
We must be a people who love, not in words or speech, but in truth and action.
The world needs to see a clear plan that propels God’s people to live a life of love.
A. On Mission in Our Heritage
Mission #1 - The church should love by partnering with others in the spread of the gospel.
Annie Armstrong was a living example of loving with truth and action.
She is a page right out of our Southern Baptist heritage.
Annie was a loyal member of Seventh Baptist Church in Baltimore. She and her family were faithful servants of Jesus and loved their pastor, Richard Fuller. With Pastor Fuller’s blessing and guidance, Annie Armstrong lived out missions “here and now” in her “Jerusalem” (). That is to say, right at home in Baltimore.
Annie knew that “the light that shines farthest shines brightest at home.” She organized the women in her church to apply the gospel to the needs in their local community—they taught the Bible to children who worked in nearby factories, launched literacy classes for former slaves after the Civil War and aided immigrants who were arriving on the East Coast for a new life.
Annie Armstrong’s passion was contagious, and Southern Baptist women joined in eagerly. Annie traveled constantly to encourage missionaries, see the spiritual needs first-hand and help churches begin Women’s Missionary Union groups. She rallied women to faithfully pray for missionaries, give to the missions offerings and teach their children to do the same.
As one of the strongest advocates for missions both at home and around the world, in one year, she hand-wrote 18,000 letters to the churches and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. (That’s 60 letters a day excluding Sundays! And without internet, email, or even a computer.)
As we give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, we continue the heritage of participating in the work of loving others in North America.
As we give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, we continue the heritage of participating in the work of loving others in North America. This money is used to send church planting missionaries into both urban and rural areas where the church is vastly underrepresented. It facilitates the development of compassion ministries designed to serve the marginalized and neglected who are struggling with poverty, illiteracy, abandonment and abuse. Our gifts promote the revitalization of existing churches on the brink of death. Through our prayers and giving, this work will be supported and expanded. It is our opportunity to be part of God’s mission through active love.
Annie Armstrong gifts are used to:
send church planting missionaries into both urban and rural areas where the church is vastly underrepresented.
This money is used to send church planting missionaries into both urban and rural areas where the church is vastly underrepresented. It facilitates the development of compassion ministries designed to serve the marginalized and neglected who are struggling with poverty, illiteracy, abandonment and abuse. Our gifts promote the revitalization of existing churches on the brink of death. Through our prayers and giving, this work will be supported and expanded. It is our opportunity to be part of God’s mission through active love.
facilitate the development of compassion ministries designed to serve the marginalized and neglected who are struggling with poverty, illiteracy, abandonment and abuse.
promote the revitalization of existing churches on the brink of death.
Through our prayers and giving, this work will be supported and expanded throughout North America.
B. On Mission from Heaven
B. On Mission from Heaven
Mission #2 - The Church must continue to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, our missionary from heaven.
PRINCIPLE Love disconnected from its source—the gospel—will never last.
We will grow tired and discouraged if we do not continually and compellingly remind the Church that Jesus Christ left the riches and glory from Heaven to do missions here and now.
2 Corinthians 8:9 NASB95
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
). Without the gospel, the Church may do all sorts of mission acts and busy themselves with frenetic activity, but fail to do so in a distinctly Christian way that prompts others to give glory to God.
Without the gospel, the Church may do all sorts of mission acts and busy themselves with frenetic activity, but fail to do so in a distinctly Christian way that prompts others to give glory to God.
The Church promotes Christ-like love in at least two ways.
The Church promotes Christ-like love in at least two ways. First, every time the church gathers, the focus of attention must continually return to the one who “suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (). If we simply heap guilt on people for their lack of love and send them on their way to try to do better, they are sure to fail. But, if we point people to the source of love and call them to reflect on the beauty of the love of God, then we give one another hope that we can play our role in active love.
1. The focus of the Church should always be Jesus
We can’t simply heap guilt on people for their lack of love and send them on their way to try to do better, they are sure to fail.
1 Peter 3:18 NASB95
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
Our purpose is to point people to the source of love and call them to reflect on the beauty of the love of God. Only then can we give one another hope that we can play our role in active love.
If we simply heap guilt on people for their lack of love and send them on their way to try to do better, they are sure to fail. But, if we point people to the source of love and call them to reflect on the beauty of the love of God, then we give one another hope that we can play our role in active love.
2. We must strive to prioritize the gospel through our acts of love.
Any time we are given the opportunity to love like Jesus, we should strive to share the motive and power behind our actions.
This doesn’t mean that every encounter with someone who is far from God turns into an in-depth gospel presentation. But, it does mean that we should pray God would give us unique ways to share the hope of Jesus with those we love.
C. On Mission Through the Church
Mission #3 - Each individual must take personal responsibility for loving others.
We must each strive to work together as the Church to obey the Word and not simply hear God’s call to active love ().
James 1:22 NASB95
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
The location where every church gathers each week provides a ready-made opportunity to begin practicing active love.
The location where every church gathers each week provides a ready-made opportunity to begin practicing active love. What needs exist that our church can meet? Who can our church engage that is clearly broken by sin?
What needs exist in our community that First Baptist Church can meet?
Who can our church engage that is clearly broken by sin?
What can you personally do to show love to others in this community?
I could point out people right here in this church that are loving others as the hands and feet of Christ. I know of several who jump at the opportunity to love on others.
My heart’s desire is that God would allow this church to shine like a beacon for His love in our community and beyond.
How can we serve the schools and teachers in our school district?
How can we serve the public servants in Los Fresnos and Cameron County?
How can we love those who struggle to put a meal on the table?
This form of active love can transform this place you show up to on Sunday morning into a place that can transform our community for Jesus Christ.
This form of active love can provide an inroad to point others to the ultimate form of love found through Jesus Christ. Throughout North America, churches find unique ways to show active love. Some work with community agencies to meet the needs of the poor or marginalized. Some utilize their facility to allow a church of another ethnicity to meet. The list of opportunities for active love is never-ending.
The list of opportunities for us as a church to act out on this love that we are giving is never-ending.
Every believer, indwelt by God’s Spirit, should seek to live on mission where they live, work and play.
Additional Sermon Helps: Prior to your message, show one of the missionary videos provided by the North American Mission Board as part of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering resources. Videos can be found on the promotion guide DVD or online at AnnieArmstrong.com. For more information on the North American Mission Board, visit namb.net/AnnualReport. For more information on the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, visit AnnieArmstrong.com.
Missions begins at home here and now. Pray and look for ways to do His work in truth and action to live on mission.
Every believer, indwelt by God’s Spirit, should seek to live on mission where they live, work and play. They can show hospitality to a neighbor suffering through the trials of a wayward teenager, lend a hand to a family learning to adjust to a newborn or offer to take a co-worker to lunch who seems particularly overwhelmed by the stress of life. Missions begins at home here and now. Pray and look for ways to do His work in truth and action to live on mission.
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