Tuesday 17th May 2022Lighthouse

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Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who died and gave Himself for me.

When we become a Christian, when we ask Jesus to become Lord of our lives and we commit ourselves to Him, we die to our old selves, right? 

2 Corinthians 5:17 in the Amplified version says – if anyone is in Christ (that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Saviour), he is a new creation (renewed and reborn by the Holy Spirit), the old things (the previous moral and spiritual condition) have passed away. Behold, new things have come (because spiritual awakening brings a new life).

Now whilst it looks I have taken a diversion from my original title, I want to just set a foundation of ‘why’, for this sermon. Why are we saying “Here I Am”. Because we are new creations, because Jesus is in us, and because in Matthew 28, which we will read from in a minute, Jesus says ‘Go and make disciples of all nations....teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’. 

So if we are new creations, living with Christ in our hearts, then surely we need to do what Christ is asking us to do. More than just that – we are new creations! We want to SHARE this with others!

Now for the “how?”

Isaiah 6:1-3 & 8

 

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;

    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

I could preach an entire sermon on just these verses, but I would like to pull 2 of them out.

Isaiah speaking in Verse 1 – I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple!

Wow! He saw the Lord! 

Verse 8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Here I Am.

Isaiah’s instant response was – here am I. Send me!

He didn’t know where he was going, what he was doing, but he responded with – here am I. Send me.

Now if you read back over that passage and read all 8 verses, you will see details. The angels are described, the whole encounter is described in detail, so I do think that if God had given him details of what he was going to do, then it would be written in this passage. I don’t think it’s something that was omitted, I think that Isaiah just answered God’s call in faith and trust that he was needed to be sent.

 

Later, have a look at Isaiah 7 onwards, and you will see God giving Isaiah specific instructions of what he needs to do. He didn’t just send him without instructions, but He had Isaiah’s response before He released the rest of the information. This is our ‘how?’. Simply say – Here I Am.

I strongly believe that God’s word is Spirit breathed, that it is sharper than a double-edged sword, that it is all truth. But sometimes I do find it easier to wrap my head around something or take it as read when it appears in the Bible multiple times.

Skipping to the New Testament, we see the famous verses – Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

These are, in the Gospel of Matthew, the last words Jesus says. We know from Acts 1 that Jesus was taken up to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God and that He will come back one day and that He said a few more things to His disciples, but looking across the different gospels, it would appear that these are some of the last things Jesus said here on earth. 

 

It stands to reason, that they are to be remembered!

Go! And make disciples.

But I can’t go anywhere? Pandemic has shut borders? Can’t get my passport renewed due to backlog? No business visas being issued? Not possible to move to a new country?

Let’s look at verse 19 – Go and make disciples of all nations.

All nations means exactly that. ALL nations. That includes England. I think we forget that, and those of us involved in overseas missions are guilty of it too, we start to forget I think, that England matters too. That we have a responsibility not only to the whole world, but also to where we are at that given point in time. And that covers where we work, where we live, where we go on holiday.

I want to talk about us responding to God’s call. I strongly believe that God is still asking – who will go for us? And I believe that He is looking to ALL of us to answer Him with – Here I Am. Send me.

The call in verse 19 is to go. It doesn’t say – therefore all of you who are called to this specific task, need to go and make disciples of all nations. It’s almost a command really – go.

 

The command to go is followed by a promise. Jesus says in verse 20 – I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

But what about if everyone goes? How does that work? I just can’t leave, am I not obeying God’s call on my life?

These are all good questions.

Romans 10:13-15

13 for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

Let’s dissect this.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Fab. But.

How can they call on His Name, if they don’t know about Him?

How can anyone preach unless they are sent?

 

This is a fantastic church, I just want to say, in terms of sending people. I was sent, in 2010, I was sent on overseas missions. Through ups and downs of the 3 years I was there, this church continued to send me, they supported me, they encouraged me, and when 2.5 years ago I started the process of moving back out overseas – which did not happen for obvious world issue reasons – our lovely senior pastors were so supportive. 

There are many ways in which you can be involved, from actually going, to sending people. Can you spare $2 a month to support the missionaries this church sends out? Can you sponsor a child through Compassion? Could you put together a package of hot chocolate sachets, a craft and some encouraging notes and put it in the post for a missionary family? If you can’t spare any cash at the moment, how about praying? Could you get on your knees for the unreached in a different country once a week? Ask me later if you want to, and I will tell you story after story of times that I felt prayers going up on my behalf whilst I was out on the field.

We will be talking about overseas missions more in the months to come, and if you are interested in going out on a short term trip or you would like to go out for a longer period of time, do come and talk to Giles or myself.

 

But also - I want to talk about local missions and outreach and ideally I’d like you to leave here today with at least one practical idea of how you can serve, starting today!

There is always something happening here at Lighthouse.

I don’t think there’s ever been a week – and bearing in mind I have been here 30 years – where there haven’t been announcements of something happening. Something to be involved in.

 

That is all local missions. Local outreach. Discipling. Basically being Jesus. Going back to Galatians 2 – Christ lives in me. Therefore, whatever we do, we are doing with Jesus’s help. If I had to be Jesus to people in my own strength, I wouldn’t be standing here today, because I literally would not be able to do it. There’s no way.

2 weeks ago, I had already written this sermon, I finished it on the Saturday, and on Sunday Pastor Kwe spoke to us about “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. I didn’t know his sermon title or context, and he didn’t know mine. But in his sermon, he told us that God will give us the skills and the talents required to do what He calls us to do.

That is so true. In my own strength, I could not do any of this.

 

Sometimes the best way to reach the world around us, is to just simply act as much as Jesus as we can, through His strength. I am not saying you need to walk around attempting to turn water into wine, although.....!! but let’s remember the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. When we begin to respond to situations and to life in general, channelling the fruit of the Holy Spirit, people are going to see a difference in how we act. I’m preaching to myself as much as everyone else here, when I say – we need to start responding to life by allowing the Holy Spirit to channel these fruit in us, and being DIFFERENT to the world.

 

That might look like smiling at your neighbour when you leave the house, or not huffing and puffing when someone jumps a queue, it may look like inviting someone for dinner and simply building a friendship with them. It might looks like serving at your church. And yes, I am going to talk about this. 

I think we often don’t see serving in church as missions, or outreach, but Jesus doesn’t ask us to go into all the world and get people into church, He asks us to ‘make disciples’. When people walk through the doors of our church, it’s nice if they are greeted with a smile, if they’re not sure where to sit, if they’re shown to an available row. They might never have sat in church before and don’t know if we have any unwritten rules about where to sit! 

 

Children’s work – whether or not you right now are dropping children off to children’s groups before coming in to church, you may have done so in previous years, you may be doing it in a few years time, or you may not ever do it, but if children are not brought up learning about Jesus, in 30 years time, there is going to be no church. The reality is, that children are the present and future of this church. I actually remember being in creche in this church, over in the Main Hall, I think creche ran up to Reception or Year 1 age then, and I remember being there! Someone sacrificed their time to help make sure I knew about Jesus and that I would have that input. Children’s work is so important, and yet so often understaffed. I know for a fact, that if this is an area you would like to be serve in and are able to, that there is an opening for you. If you’re part of online church, why don’t you pray for the children’s work? 

 

If children’s groups are just not for you, why not volunteer to stand on the door and greet people? Maybe you’re techy and could volunteer a couple of hours on a Thursday evening and some Sundays up in the sound desk. Or you could serve coffee after church? Perhaps you could invite someone out for a coffee or treat them to a Big Mac and chat? Drop someone off some flowers one evening – fruit of the Spirit is love – or send them a message saying you hope they have a great day. Anything like that, my friends, is outreach! It’s missions! It’s discipling!

 

If you want to ultimately go out on overseas missions, you need to start somewhere, and believe you me, start at home. Start where you know the language and the food and the weather. When you move out, there will be enough new things, that you will be so grateful for the children’s work experience or how to make tea and coffee for 100 people.

Failing any of that, come along to events. Come along to events Lighthouse puts on, invite someone to come with you, come and build friendships with people who are there. You can then disciple each other, strengthen each other, pray for each other as you go your separate ways.

I am not here to guilt you into anything, but I want to answer the question of ‘what?’.

 

Why? – because Jesus asks us to, and He lives in us and we are a new creation that wants to respond to Christ’s call

How – by answering “Here I Am, Send Me’, answering out of faith in the Son of God who died and gave Himself for me, because I am a new creation and I want to share it with others

What – just about anything! I have lists if you need them – no shame in not knowing where to start.

Where – that is, in many ways, between you and God, but if you just don’t know yet where, that’s OK! Start where you are at this moment in time. Start small if you need to.

The last question/point is – when?

Considering Jesus said, 2000 years ago, to start, I’m thinking that right now is a good time to start.

Final Scripture 

Isaiah 41:10, this is God speaking

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my right hand.

 

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