Ends of the Earth
Jesus tells his followers to take his Good News to the ends of the earth. How can you be a part of that mission?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
Good to be back. I apologize in advance if I make some awkward pauses this morning.
This is my first time in a while not speaking with a translator. J
As many of you know, I spent the last 2 weeks with our Renovation team in Rwanda…in Africa.
I spoke 11 different times when I was there, so I’ve kind of gotten in the habit of making a point (pause) and then waiting for translation.
We’re really excited to tell you more about our trip today and in the coming weeks.
ACTS 1:8 PRINCIPLE
We are starting a new series this morning called 1:8.
We are going to be taking 3 weeks to study a principle that comes out of Acts chapter 1, verse 8, in the Bible.
Let me set up the passage for you.
The book of Acts is a book in the Bible about how the early church got started.
We actually taught on this book for 43 weeks back in the day
The book begins with Jesus’ final words to his disciples before he ascends back into heaven.
Let’s take a look at what he says:
(Acts 1:4-9) – NIV
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command:“ Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
So what’s happening here?
Jesus’ main mission on earth is over…
He’s demonstrated love.
He’s taught the people.
He died for us
He was resurrected.
And now he will return to heaven, victorious…and the church must begin and carry out his mission.
And His mission for us is simple.
It’s the most quoted Scripture probably at this church.
You should have this memorized. It’s the mission of EVERY church…EVER
(Matthew 28:19) – NIV
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,
But I want you to notice something in these two passages:
Even though Luke (the author of Acts) tells us that the number of believers is quite small at this point (only 120 are gathered together in Jerusalem)…Jesus has a HUGE vision for them.
What does he say in both passages?
He says, “Take this thing global!”
Can you imagine what they must have been thinking?
Most of them probably haven’t been more than 50 miles from their home…EVER.
There are no planes…no cars…they didn’t even use horses.
They’re mostly uneducated…they know hardly anything about other cultures…AND…they hardly have any money.
And Jesus says…take this good news to the ends of the earth!
In fact, let’s look at Acts 1:8 again…that’s the theme verse for this series:
(Acts 1:8) – NIV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
First of all, where are these places?
Let’s look at a map…Maps are awesome!
BTW, On the plane ride home this week, God sat me next to a woman who wanted to get her faith right again…and she happened to be a cartographer who LOVED maps…
God knows what He’s doing!
SHOW Judea/Samaria Map
So Jesus says:
FIRST, be my witnesses in Jerusalem
(Point it out on the map)
That’s the town God has already brought them too
SECOND, take it to Judea and Samaria.
Judea is the tan region they are in.
It’s their area/region/district
Samaria…is the next region directly north (it’s purple)
And THIRD, take the Gospel (the good news) to the ends of the earth.
To all nations!
And really, this is a good scorecard for EVERY church
I often think of Acts 1:8 this way:
(Show Acts 1:8 Diagram)
I believe this is the task of any church.
Bring the Gospel to your city
Bring the Gospel to your region…and the regions just beyond you.
Bring the Gospel…to the ends of the earth.
And that is what we are attempting to do at Renovation.
To bring the Gospel here in Blaine
To bring it to the metro and beyond through church planting.
And to take it to the world through missions.
So, we’re going to spend 3 weeks in this series…and we’ll spend 1 week on each of the rings.
And, because it works really well with what’s happening in the life of our church…we’re actually going to work backwards.
And today…we’re going to start with the outside ring… ”the ends of the earth”
WHY MISSIONS IS IMPORTANT
So why take the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the earth?
The simple reason is: He told us to.
And that should be enough.
Here’s more reasons why though:
If the Christians of the first few centuries had not obeyed Jesus in this, you would NEVER have known about Jesus.
And as the world gets smaller and smaller, more people worldwide are having their lives changed for eternity because of the willingness of Christ-followers to obey Jesus and bring the Gospel to ALL people.
Let me give you some stats on world missions:
In 1900, there were ZERO protestant churches in Korea. Today, over 7,000 churches just in the Seoul, South Korea alone.
At the end of the 19th century, the southern portion of Africa was only 3 percent Christian. Today, 63 percent of the population is Christian, while membership in the churches in Africa is increasing by 34,000 people per day.
More people in the Islamic world have come to Christ in the last 25 years than in the entire history of Christian missions.
In China, it is estimated that there are now more self-avowed disciples of Jesus than members of the Communist party. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that China will soon have more Christians than any country.
But How did this happen?!? A hundred years ago…these countries didn’t have Jesus!
It happened because people just like you left their homes and went to tell people about Jesus!
They left…not just to build hospitals and houses…but to tell people about Jesus!
Every year that goes by, more and more churches and missions organizations are switching to doing service-only missions trips.
Where they just paint…they just build…and they don’t do any evangelism.
Listen, it’s important to help out…it’s important to do social justice.
But justice without Jesus is still injustice.
If you give someone a comfortable home to live in for the next 50 years…but help ensure that they’ll spend the next 50 million years in hell, trust me, you’re not doing them any favors.
Justice without Jesus is still injustice.
The reality is, we need to do both.
And although we’ve made great strides in world missions…the task is far from over.
~10% of people are followers of Jesus
~20% of people are followers in “name only”
~40% of people have heard “some” about Jesus, but aren’t followers
~30% of people have heard NOTHING about Jesus
In the last 40 years, over 1 billion people have died who never heard of Jesus. 30 million people this year alone will die without ever hearing the message of salvation.
If you want to learn more about this, check out JoshuaProject.net
This is the task of the church of Jesus Christ.
Listen, our mission isn’t done until we reach ALL people.
A lot of Christians tend to just sit at home and complain about how the world is getting so bad and is probably going to end soon.
But if they want the world to end so badly, they’d be better of engaging in world missions than reading crazy blogs and watching doomsday prepper shows.
(Matthew 24:14) – NIV
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus isn’t coming back until our mission is complete.
And that’s ALL nations.
As God continues to graciously grow Renovation Church, our goal is to continue to expand our impact globally.
Right now, we offer 2 international short-term trips.
Our goal is to eventually get to 3 strategic international trips.
In just a little bit, I want to talk more about the 2 trips we are offering again next year…
But my goal for this year, is that we see 10% of our average Sunday attendance take the Gospel of Jesus internationally with us this year.
We average right around 300 people on a Sunday.
We want to see over 30 people go on trips this year.
Maybe even more than that!
My vision is also that EVERY SINGLE one of you goes on an international missions trip at least once.
That you come…at least once (many of you will be hooked)…but that you ALL come at least once…and experience the power of God in this way.
We also want to expand our support of full-time missionaries
We are praying that more of you feel called into full-time missionary work…where you would leave your jobs, your home, and take the Gospel full-time into the world.
And we want to be one of the many people and groups that support you financially do that.
Because this is one of the 3 things God is calling EVERY church to do:
Jerusalem (your city), Judea & Samaria (your region), and the ends of the earth.
THE ISSUE OF CALLING
So how does each one of us make a global impact?
How can you be a part of helping to reach the nations for Christ?
Well, there are a couple of simple things you can do.
You can pray.
Pray for the nations. Pray for missions groups. Just pray.
You can give financially.
There are so many groups, missions organizations, and individual missionaries that are worthy of your investment.
And even when you give here, 5% of everything you can give goes directly into international missions.
But you should also go.
We are living in unprecedented times.
As I was flying to Rwanda, we were flying over Egypt, and I had one of those “Are we there yet?” moments.
It took us 31 hours of straight travel to get there, and as I was mentally complaining about it, I started thinking about the Christians who used to board ships to go.
Not knowing if they would live…taking sometimes months to reach places they had never been.
But now…with the invention of the short-term missions trip, we can all go.
But yet, many (even most) people don’t go.
I want to cover a few reasons why I think that is.
And 2 in particular:
The issue of calling and the issue of selfishness.
Let’s start with the issue of Calling.
One of the most common responses I hear to WHY people have never gone themselves to take the Gospel to the nations is simply this:
They say, “I don’t feel called.”
But let me address this…because I think this is a misapplication of the word “calling”
For instance, let’s talk about calling:
Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the TV yesterday?
Did you hear God calling you to buy your TV? Or your tablet? Or your laptop?
Did you hear God calling you to go on your last vacation?
Did he tell you where? And that you should go?
And I could go on and on and on…For most things, we do not seek his call and blessings.
And yet, when it comes to short-term missions work, Christians have repeatedly used this as an out.
They say, “I don’t feel God calling me to Haiti.
I don’t feel God calling me to Africa.
Don’t use that as an excuse.
Because 95% of the stuff we do, we don’t wait for God to tell us first.
And the ironic part is… that going to Rwanda…and going to Haiti…is one thing HE DID call you to do.
He already called you!
He tells you in his WORD to take to the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
(John 20:21) – NIV
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
As He came to us…we are to go out
I think the confusion comes out of the difference between a long-term missionary and short-term missionary.
Being a long-term missionary (moving to a different country and reaching people for Christ) is a vocational calling.
It’s a calling to choose the vocation of a missionary.
It’s a ministry… like being a pastor.
God is not calling everyone to be a pastor. It’s a specific gifting, the Bible says.
And so is that of being a full-time missionary.
Some of you should NOT be full-time missionaries.
It wouldn’t go well.
And that’s not a knock on you…it just means it’s not your gifting.
But being a short-term missionary is different…because EVERYBODY can do it.
Being a long term missionary is to a pastor…like what a short-term missionary is to sharing your faith
Everybody can (and should) do that.
You can go with to Haiti and build stuff.
You can go and play with kids.
You can talk about how awesome Jesus is.
Now, it might not be the right year for you to go…but you are all called.
THE ISSUE OF SELFISHNESS
I said I wanted to cover two reasons why I think people never get started in taking the gospel to the nations:
The issue of calling…and the issue of selfishness.
Let’s look at selfishness.
How does that get in the way?
It’s not a whole lot different than how selfishness gets in the way of us doing evangelism here in the U.S.
We put ourselves…our comfort…our reputation…our schedules…in front of the work of sharing the Good News that can free people from hell.
Doing this sort of work takes sacrifice.
Did I hate being away from my wife and kids for 12 days?
Was it worth it? Was it worth it to see over 200 people meet Jesus Christ and cross over from death to life.
It takes sacrifice. But I want you to know…people do it all the time…and you can too.
People from Renovation leave their kids with Grandma for a week. Sometimes even spouses go together and leave kids.
Is it hard? Yes.
Is it worth it? Yes.
Can you do it? Yes.
I think a lot of people don’t go because money is a factor.
They don’t want to ask people for help….they don’t want to write letters to fundraise…
But listen, if the Apostle Paul never did that (which you can see him doing it in the NT), you never would have heard about Jesus.
And people have the gift of generosity
Let them utilize their gifts.
But what if you have to pay some of the rest on your own?
Many people pay a few hundred dollars of the remaining money for Haiti.
Even for Rwanda, some people paid just $1,000 to go.
It’s a year away. Start saving.
I would just ask you: Is there a better investment than being a direct part of helping people meet Jesus?
Sometimes people don’t go because they don’t want to give up vacation time.
Again…we let ourselves come before obedience.
But listen…you’re most likely not going to go on a trip every year.
To take…a week of your vacation for this…say once every 5 years…is SO worth it.
Put God’s eternal mission before your own comfort.
Your goal is not to get to heaven rested.
You have all of eternity to rest.
Besides, many of our people feel like they feel more refreshed going on a life-changing trip anyway instead of sitting on the beach.
Here’s another aspect of selfishness that gets in the way.
Sometimes Christians look at the 3 rings (Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria, and the Ends of the Earth), and they say…why should we be spending money going to Africa when we have enough problems here of our own?
In fact, when I was helping put on a pastor’s conference for 100 Rwandan pastors, one of them asked me that.
He said, “Should we really start bringing the Gospel to Tanzania? And Uganda? And the Congo?”
“Don’t we have enough problems of our own to fix first?”
But here’s the thing. We need each other.
If you look at church history, God’s people are always on fire for Him SOMEWHERE on earth.
Even if you’re thinking about this from a selfish standpoint…sometime or anther…the church in America is going to grow cold…maybe it’s even happening right now.
And if we’re going to survive…we need to get the Gospel to the ends of the earth…even if only so they could come and revive us someday.
One of my favorite moments from our Rwanda trip came when I was praying a blessing at our Festival over the Rwandan city we were in.
And I prayed that one day in the next generation…that African missionaries would begin coming to us…bringing us the Gospel.
And there was a man there…a key spiritual leader from Zimbabwe that was visiting….he was about 6’5”, 275 pounds…
And as I was walking back to sit down, he stood up, looked at me and said, “WE’RE COMING!”
We each need to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth…so that we can give new birth to it…so that the fresh life…will sustain the church worldwide.
So I want you to live out this application this year…go with us to the ends of the earth…and see what God will do in and through you.
Our Haiti Trip will be in early February this year.
Our Haiti trip is probably one of the most well-run and balanced trips I’ve ever been a part of.
No matter what your gifts are…we can use them.
Working with your hands? Building?
We need that!
You love kids?
We do a ton with kids!
You want to get better at sharing your faith?
We’ll help you.
It’s so well-rounded.
It’s also about the cheapest international missions trip you could ever go on.
Our reviews of this trip are SO high.
IN fact, every year about 1/3 to ½ of the people come back the very next year even.
It’s such a neat first step into missions.
And our Rwanda Trip…is simply amazing!
We are going for 12 days again at the end of July…and early August.
I know that’s a little ways away still, but we like to roll our trips out together…and this of course gives you extra time to get your finances in order as well.
Let me tell you something…God is doing something amazing in Rwanda right now.
I was on that trip with another pastor who had been to 50 countries…and he told me had never seen such a receptivity to the Gospel.
During the afternoons, we would often work with churches…where they would set up their choirs in a local park…and people would stop by just because it was something to do…
Then…our team would get up and share their testimonies…and I (or someone else) would get up and give the Gospel..
And just like that…maybe 50 out of 300 people would…right there at the park…walk down and give their lives to Jesus.
There is a WINDOW of opportunity open right now in Rwanda.
The harvest is very ripe…but the workers are few.
Will you come with us and help lead a ton of people to Jesus?
You can be a part of any of our teams there…you can help put on maybe a women’s conference…or leadership conference…we need a LOT of people to work with our kids VBS…some work with our prison ministry…
And of course you all will get to do evangelism.
It’s a trip unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Applications for both trips are available on the table.
Even if you feel like you’re only 10% interested…please pick up an application and start reading it over.
And if you feel like…”I want to do this, but I’m not sure I could ever do it…”
Look again at Acts 1:8
(Acts 1:8) – NIV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We go…not in our own strength…but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God goes with us…because this is HIS MISSION…HIS HOPE…HIS PEOPLE!
Will you go?
God didn’t fill you with his holy spirit to do nothing.
Will you go?
Will you let Him use you to help reach the nations?
I pray that you will.
I’m going to end my message by showing you a promotional video of what the Haiti Trip looks like…and then we’ll have a few announcements and worship.
And don’t miss church next week…as we’ll be showing you a promotional video of exactly what the Rwanda Trip looks like.
Let’s watch our Haiti video …(PLAY HAITI VIDEO)
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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