Your Link to 3000+ Missionaries 11/29/98

II Kings 7:1-9
Page 559 Come Alive Bible

Matthew 28:18-20
Page 1460 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST is the Bread of Life sufficient to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the world. Jesus Christ is the Water of Life adequate to quench the spiritual thirst of anyone. Evidences abound indicating our society is a spiritually hungry and thirsty culture eating and drinking at all the wrong places.

The growth of the New Age movement reveals a spiritual appetite. The aggression of Secular Humanism indicates spiritual starvation. The mushrooming of the occult and cults shows a thirst for the spiritual meaning of life.

While the world drinks from these and other salty fountains, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ seems to be willing to sit at ease in Zion. Contentment should never be confused as being complacency. While cult and occult members evangelize America, the church sits on its apathy. By that I mean we individual Christians aren’t doing a very good job of obeying Christ by going into all the world to make disciples.

We laugh at Moonies standing on street corners in the rain selling flowers. Let me ask you, when was the last time you stood in the rain to tell somebody about Jesus? Satanists stand outside theaters showing occult films to recruit prospects as they come out. When was the last time you approached somebody for Christ or His beloved bride, the church?

One cultic group requires its members to spend a minimum of ten hours a month sharing with others, five hours a week attending meetings, and several hours in study. Their religion isn’t mere formality. They go door-to-door witnessing.

A child came into the room and said, “Mom, you know that vase in the living room that has been handed down from generation to generation in our family? Well this generation just dropped it.” That speaks of the lineage of the Christian faith.

There is a historical account in the Old Testament which illustrates the position and condition of the church today.

This isn’t a sermon in the traditional sense; it is a narrative designed to dramatize the church in modern America and what can be done to reverse conditions. It is your story.

In II Kings 6 and 7, the story is told of the invasion of Samaria by the massive Syrian army of King Ben-hadad. His well-equipped army brought bountiful supplies. They were prepared to live comfortably and eat well for months. All Samaria didn’t have, they did have. The siege of Samaria resulted in such a famine that the people even resorted to eating dove’s dung. Formerly strong persons walked the streets as shadows of their former selves. Famine had made of them virtual walking skeletons peering through gaunt eyes, crying out for food through parched lips.

Enter Elisha the prophet at a moment when conditions were bleakest and conditions most impossible. Let’s pick up the story at II Kings 7: 1 and let it speak to and exhort us to action.

Verse 1, conditions were deplorable and deteriorating fast. God’s prophet, Elisha, said, “Tomorrow” grain will be so abundant in this town that it will sell cheap.

Verse 2, one of the elite officers mocked and used sarcasm to deplore the prophecy as impossible unless God opened the windows of heaven and poured it out. He represents those within any church who say the Christian community can’t do what Christ has mandated.

Elisha said, it is going to happen, but you aren’t going to be around to see it happen and enjoy the feast.

Any church that doesn’t take the Lord at His word and seek to share Christ with the community isn’t going to be around for long. Every believer – children, youth, and adults – can impact their sphere of friends for Christ. We are each accountable.

Verse 3 describes four poor lepers sitting at the gate of Samaria. They decided they would –

Verse 4, they mused over the fact that if they sat there they would starve. If they went into the camp of the Syrians, they might well be killed. However, if they venture, there might be a chance the Syrians would have pity on them and give them food. Either way they might well die. They determined that if they were to die, they would die trying, not crying “Poor little ole me.”

Verse 5, they ventured to go at sundown. IT’S WORTH THE RISK!

Verse 6, God intervened. By some means of nature at His disposal, perhaps a rumbling earthquake or roaring wind, He confused the Syrians. They thought the Samarians had hired other armies to join them in an attempt to repel them. The Syrians, thinking themselves to be outnumbered, panicked and fled in the night.

Verse 7, they left everything just as it was; food, clothing, arms, animals, and valuables. They even dropped items as they fled for their lives.

Verse 8, when the lepers came they were astonished. Just these four starving lepers had the wealth of Syria to themselves. Now what? They ate and drank until they could eat and drink no more. They took valuable possessions and hid them.

Then reason struck. They realized they should —

“We are not doing what is right” We are called to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.

Eighty-five persons are added to the world’s population every minute.

5,000 an hour, 130,000 every day, 4,000,000 a month.

If the gospel were preached in 8 villages a day where the gospel is unknown it would take 250 to reach all of them at the present rate.

3,000 were saved on the Day of Pentecost. If a Pentecost occurred every day in China it would take 640 years at the present rate to reach every one.

Do we care?

One of the major reasons God has blessed America is the country has been a loyal base for helping evangelize the world. With our decreasing faithfulness to the task our blessings have diminished. God is raising up others to help evangelize the world. Even France has 200 missionaries in 30 countries. South Korea now has over 5,500 missionaries in 100 countries.

The lepers resolved to —

“Let us…”

William Carey is regarded as the father of modern missions. As a youth he had a veracious appetite for reading. Science, history, and travel were his special interests. He was a cobbler by trade. After his conversion he would say, “My work is to preach the gospel. I cobble shoes to pay expenses.” His attention to missions was first sparked by reading “The Last Voyage of Captain Cook.”

He attended a ministers meeting in North Hampton. After the evening session a group of young ministers were sitting around talking. Dr. Ryland, an imminent older minister entered the room. To engage the younger ministers in conversation he asked that they suggest a topic for conversation. After a pause, Carey rose with some hesitation, and suggested they discuss, “whether the command given the Apostles to teach all nations was obligatory on all succeeding minsters to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent.”

Dr. Ryland dismissed the thought as being absurd saying, “Young man, when God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.”

Carey wasn’t discouraged. On October 2, 1792, in Keetering, England, the Baptist Mission Society was established. India was envisioned as the first foreign mission field. Andrew Fuller said, “we saw that there was a great gold mine in India, but it seemed almost as deep as the center of the earth. Now, who will venture to explore it?”

Carey responded, “I am willing to go down into the deep shaft, but you my brethren, must hold the ropes.” Carey believed it was WORTH THE RISK.

Carey went. The responsibility of the “rope holders” was two fold:
a. support him with prayer and
b. to provide the financial means to do the job.

Rope holders are needed today for the 3000+ missionaries we have in foreign lands.

The tenuous position of the one on the rope being held is one of dependence. In their faithfulness they are dependent upon the rope holders. Simply put, our missionaries are dependent upon us for spiritual and financial support. Faithfulness is found on their end of the rope. They await our response. Will we be found faithful?

The dedication of those who go down in the shaft is inspiring. I had a friend, Marion Sanders, who wrote the following inscription in her Bible on January 6, 1945, the day she committed her life to serve our Lord as a missionary.

“Lord, I give up my own purposes and plans, all my own desires, hopes and ambitions, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever. I hand over to Thy keeping all my friendships. All the people I love are to take second place in my heart. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever. ‘To me to live is Christ.’” Marion Sanders.

We who are rope holders need the same dedication.

IV. BARE GOOD NEWS Vs. 9c “go and tell”
Too many of us Christians are like an Arctic River, frozen at the mouth.

There are people only you can reach for Christ. Always use tact. A newly saved barber could hardly wait to share his new faith. His first customer wanted a shave. As he stood by the chair sharpening his straight razor on the leather strap, he could think of no better way to begin than by asking. “Are you ready to die?” Remember, “If you don’t use tact, you may lose contact.”

The lepers decided they would wait no longer to tell others the good news. In the Orient, new Christian converts are expected to begin at once sharing their faith. A pastor asked a convert how many persons he had shared with during the three months of his salvation. The convert answered, “I am a learner.” The pastor asked, “When does a candle begin to shine? Is it when it is half burned up?” Came the reply, “No, as soon as it is lit.” The pastor said, “That is right, so let your light shine right away.”

The lepers came back to tell the starving city the good news. Cautiously at first and then with great glee the city responded. They rushed out to enjoy the bounty left by the retreating Syrians.

The next day grain was so abundant in the city it was selling cheap. The cynic who scoffed at the idea wasn’t around to eat any of it. Notice what happened to him as he tried to keep the people from rushing out in response to the good news —

Vss. 19 and 20; “…the people trampled him in the gate, and he died.” Prophecy fulfilled.

Consider the options. What is the church to do? Dare we sit on our apathy while the world around perishes? Dare we extend ourselves in a loving effort to feed the spiritually hungry?

The person who feels his need the most is the most likely to act. They had no option but to look for grace. Inaction is often as bad as positive wrong-doing; “We sit here and die.” Salvation comes only through definite action; “Let us go.” A feast awaits. IT’S WORTH THE RISK!

Will you become an heir?

That which we offer to the world we profess here and now.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2: 8, 9).

This results in you becoming an heir of all earthly benefits and the treasures of Heaven because we become “…heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Rom 8:17)