SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
Passage: Luke 9:3 (KJV)
“And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.”
Memory Verse: Luke 9:3 (NIV)
“HE SAID TO THEM, “TAKE NOTHING FOR THE JOURNEY-NO STAFF, NO BAG, NO BREAD, NO MONEY, NO ETRA TUNIC.”“
In the previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today we mentioned that Jesus gave his disciples power and authority to continue to follow his footsteps of preaching, teaching, healing and delivering people from demonic possession. The point was also made that the mandate is for the church and not the individual. It is the mandate of every church to preach, teach, heal and deliver people from demonic attacks. No church is to specialize in only one or two aspects; every church has the mandate to follow what Jesus told the early church. In this edition we want to focus on how to prepare for successful mission trips.
When Jesus was sending out the Twelve he gave them some specific instructions which he expected them to obey. He told them generally to take nothing for their journey. Jesus then expatiated what he meant by ‘nothing’ to include staff for direction, bag for the carrying of things, bread to eat, money to buy food and extra tunic to wear. At this juncture we will attempt to understand why Jesus said that and the message he wanted to send to the Twelve and by extension all believers.
Jesus knows that everyone who travels to a foreign land will need to make some preparations to ensure that they do not face any serious difficulties. As people travelling to a foreign land, bags to carry some clothes, food and water were inevitable. They also needed money to buy food in case they experienced any food shortages. Yet Jesus restrained them from taking anything along which they obliged. He restrained them because he did not want to carry any burdens of such as heavy loads of food, water and clothing. He knew that such loads could make their journey more tiring for them.
The bag, the food and the clothing Jesus restrained the Twelve from taking was intended to make their journey lighter and hasten their movement from place to place. Imagine a person with a heavy load on his back trying to climb a mountain. Jesus demonstrated that he is willing to grant us rest from all our burdens. He does not want us to be distracted by the many burdens of this life which entangle us and make our walk with him more difficult. The heavy load could also stand for sins which make our walk with the Lord almost impossible.
If we are burdened with sin our walk with the Lord will never be smooth and successful. Therefore those of us who have decided to walk with the Lord Yeshua Ha’Mashiack should allow him who is able to take away our sinful burdens from us to do so for us. If we still keep our sins and other burdens of this world on our shoulders as we follow the Lord we shall soon become weary and hit the rock. It is my prayer that all of us will bring all our sins before Jesus and allow him to carry them on the cross for us!
Apart from given the disciples a less wearisome journey by asking them not to take bags, food and clothing, Jesus also restrained them from taking staves which were used for directions through the desert lands. He also restrained them from taking wallets containing money. Jesus did so to teach them to depend solely on him for directions and provisions. It is true that some Christian missionaries depend so much on sponsorship that they tend to believe that without money from donors they cannot manage their mission posts and projects.
Some missionaries have taken advantage of donor support to enrich themselves in one way or another. Some missionaries have also become over reliant on donor funding to the extent that they sometimes forget to consult the One who sent them. When some missionaries are faced with critical decisions they consult books and people for directions instead of the One who sent them. This is what Jesus wanted his disciples to avoid – He wanted them to be fully reliant on him for all their spiritual and physical needs. This is not a message for the Twelve alone but for all believers.
Many Christians forget that we have been called and sent into this world for a mission. This mission is God’s mission. God wants to win the lost world through us. He has therefore placed us in certain positions to be effective soul winners. He is also aware of all our needs in this soul winning journey. He knows we cannot go without him so he has promised to be with us till the end of this age (Matthew 28:20). He also knows that we need certain provisions such as food, water, shelter, and clothing among others. He has therefore promised through Paul that he will supply all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
David also reminded us that the One who has called and sent us is our shepherd who ensures that we lack nothing (Psalm 23). As we continue in the things God has called us to do, may we always put our trust in Him and avoid leaning on the arm of flesh and human wisdom for provision and direction! If we fully rely on Him who has called and sent us, we shall be blessed.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
WHATEVER HOUSE YOU ENTER, STAY THERE UNTIL YOU LEAVE THAT TOWN.
In the above section of Spiritual Nourishment for Today we looked at Jesus’ instruction to the Twelve when he first sent them out on a mission. We learnt that missionaries and all those called and sent by God in one way or another must learn to put all their burdens on Christ, forsake all their sins and trust him for provision, protection and direction. If Christians rely on the wisdom of man and the arm of flesh they will fail in their calling. In this edition we want to look at further instructions Jesus gave towards a successful mission.
After instructing the disciples not to take anything with them on their way to foreign lands, he further admonished them on how to conduct themselves on the mission field. Jesus told the disciples to stay in the house where they would be welcomed and stay there till they leave the town. Jesus may have a very good reason for giving the disciples such instruction but to us it may not be very clear. Jesus communicated with the disciples in the language they knew best and never intended hiding the meaning of anything he said from his disciples. It is therefore imperative for us to attempt an understanding of what the Master said. This however cannot be achieved without a historical background.
In the ancient near East, hospitality was a very important part of the culture of the people. Strangers were treated like people who belonged to the houses of their hosts. Sometimes guests are even treated better than their hosts. Those who welcomed their guests offered them as much food and water as they needed. Their animals were not left out. Jesus thus knew that there was the tendency of the disciples to take advantage of this custom of hospitality to move from house to house in search of better treatment by their hosts.
This had the potential of making the gospel lose its power as the disciples would be trying to please their guests in exchange for hospital. Jesus also knows that his disciples could not concentrate on the preaching and teaching of the gospel as well as the healing of the sick and the exorcising of evil spirits. He wanted them to rather stay at one place where he would prepare for them, eat and drink whatever would be served them till they left the towns.
The dangers Jesus wanted to guard the disciples against still exist in our times. Many ministers of the gospel are watering down the gospel because of the generosity people show them. Indeed it is true that those who receive instructions from the word must share all good things with their instructors (Galatians 6:4). It however does not mean that those who preach must always depend on the generosity of their hearers for their survival; they must rather depend on God for his provision.
Many ministers have become accustomed to dependence on their listeners and have fallen into the trap of preaching and teaching what their hearers want to hear and not what the Lord wants them to preach or teach. This is diversion from what the Master expects of us. The Master wants us to appreciate what he provides for us and work hard to accomplish the mission of God. He does not want us to become too mindful of what we shall receive from the work he has tasked us to do. If we become too mindful of the gifts people give us, we shall lose our focus on the mission field. Let us therefore accept whatever the Lord provides for us with a heart of gratitude and concentrate on the work. The one who has called us is faithful and will ensure we are not put to shame in the end.
Jesus wanted to teach that wherever we are welcomed is the place he has prepared for us. If we decide to move away to other places we think are better than where we were first received we may endanger our lives and also fail in on the mission field. It is also very important for missionaries to stay at one place and use it as their mission posts. This will help the missionaries in their preparations as they will not have to move from one place to another every day. They can have a mission post, travel to other places to minister, and come back to their posts as Jesus usually did. The Early Church also adopted this practice and continued in it. It is therefore important for ministers of the gospel to learn to stay in the churches God has placed them to serve. It is not good for pastors to be moving from one ministry to another in search of better conditions of service unless the Lord so directs them.
In the same way ministers of the gospel must remember that the God who has placed us where we are now did so for a purpose and will take care of us if we trust and obey him! If we decide to hop from church to church because of the prevailing challenges or financial hardships without God’s approval we may end up in places we shall forever regret. Let us therefore move only when the Lord directs and our ministries will continue to flourish to the glory of God!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Before Jesus sent the Twelve out he told them about those who will not welcome them. The way Jesus put it shows clearly that he knew some people would refuse to accept the message the disciples carried. Jesus knew that his disciples would not be welcomed in every city. As the Omniscient God who came in the flesh, Jesus even knew the towns where the disciples would not be welcomed but he did not tell them not to go there. He only told them they would meet people who would refuse to welcome them and listen to what they had to say. This brings us to the understanding that we shall not always be received well in our attempts to spread the gospel. Sometimes we may be refused entry into certain places such as homes, towns, villages or even countries. People may oppose the gospel message and even attempt to take our lives. Yes we may not be liked or loved because of the one whose message we carry. But this should not discourage us.
Even though Jesus knew his disciples would be refused entry into certain towns and villages he did not tell them not to go. Indeed he knew sometimes some people may even attempt to kill his disciples but he still told them to go. This is because he wants everyone to hear the Gospel. He did not tell them not to go to certain places because they would not be welcomed. He wanted them to go to all places whether they would be welcomed or not. He did not want to refuse some people the opportunity to hear the gospel because of what they could potentially do or how they could maltreat the people who carry the Good News. This is something worth noting about our mandate to spread the Good News. The Master knows very well that not all people will welcome us but he wants us to go perhaps they might change their minds and listen. Sometimes majority of the people may refuse to listen or receive us but one person may receive the message. God can use just one person to change a whole village, town or city. The fact that some people refused to receive the Gospel yesterday does not necessarily mean they would refuse it today. Therefore let us take away all prejudices and reach every people everywhere with the Gospel, perhaps the Lord may save some through us!
We should also not allow fear to overcome us as we embark on any missionary trip. We have no excuse not to reach any group of people with the Gospel. We should understand that no matter how notorious a certain group of people may be God can change their hearts and cause them to receive the Gospel. Therefore fear and prejudice should not be allowed to discourage us in our mission to certain places. Even if our lives are endangered, the One who sends us will protect us. It is my prayer that every believer would accept this challenge and reach out to the unreached henceforth. God bless you for taking such a great step of faith!
Jesus does not want us to be violent in our presentation of the Gospel. So he advised the disciples not to force the Gospel on any group of people or engage in any exchange of words with those who refused to welcome them. This tells us that even though we are to obey the command to preach and teach the Good News we have not been given the right to force anyone to accept our message. Ours is to preach and teach and not to convert. If they reject the Gospel they have rejected the King and he will deal with them in his own way. All we need to do is to go and not worry about the attitude of the people to whom we have been sent. If you preach the Gospel and people do not repent the way we expect to see there is no need to be angry with them and even insult them in one way or another. We are also not supposed to take up swords and guns and insist that people must accept the Christ we preach. What happened in the history of the church where people who refused certain Christian doctrines were attacked, killed and sometimes banished should not be encouraged. In the same way we should not resort to the tactics of other people who want to spread their religion by the use of the sword. We are being sent to sow the seeds. We should allow the Lord to provide the conditions for fruit bearing.
All that the Master wants from us is obedience. He just wants us to go to all parts of the world to deliver the gospel. Even if some people refuse to receive our message the Lord will know what we have done and that will be a testimony against them, probably before the throne of the Almighty. If we obey and send the Gospel everywhere, no group of people can stand before God and say they never heard the Gospel because there will be enough evidence against their claims. The dust from our feet will show all the places we visited. Let us now move out with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all parts of the world and the Lord will save those he wants to save through our obedience. May the Lord cause us to overcome any fears and prejudices that may serve as obstacles before us!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.