Your Kingdom Come

Well, it seems I’m in a little series about the Lord’s Prayer. The last couple of posts have been about the start of the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 6:9-13. You may well be familiar with it. I figure I might as well continue with it too. So, this week we come to the next phrase of this prayer, ‘Your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10)

Over 10 years ago I was impacted by a song related to this theme. The song, which can be found here, is conveniently titled, Let Your Kingdom Come and was released in 2003. I thought at the time, and still think now, it’s a great congregational song for any church. And it upholds the truths of scripture, the sentiment of this verse, and calls for God to continue to make his presence felt in this world. The lyrics go:

Your glorious cause, O God
Engages our hearts
May Jesus Christ be known
Wherever we are
We ask not for ourselves, but for Your renown
The cross has saved us so we pray

Your kingdom come
Let Your kingdom come
Let Your will be done
So that everyone might know Your Name
Let Your song be heard everywhere on earth
Till Your sovereign work on earth is done
Let Your kingdom come

Give us Your strength, O God
And courage to speak
Perform Your wondrous deeds
Through those who are weak
Lord use us as You want, whatever the test
By grace we’ll preach Your gospel
Till our dying breath

When I pray this prayer that Jesus teaches, and if I ponder these words, ‘Your kingdom come…’, then I am struck by the tension that is within it. For in praying for God’s kingdom to come we are recognising that it isn’t all here yet–it being ‘God’s kingdom’.

We live in a world that is broken and sinful and, at times, downright horrendous. But we also live in a world where there is joy, happiness, and satisfaction. We live in a world that is in tension all the time. Whether it be through personal relationships or the environment and creation groaning, or whether it be the internal nature of our soul and attitudes. We are living in tension and learning to constantly live in tension our whole lives.

The theologians among us may be familiar with the term ‘Now and not yet’. This is a phrase that describes just this–the tension of living between two worlds. The kingdom of earth and the kingdom of heaven. For what we do recognise as believers is that God has entered the world in the form of his Son, Jesus Christ. And through entering this world he has begun the redemption and restoration of his kingdom. And yet, not all is well. Sin still reigns, brokenness still exists, and pain is still present. We continue to wait for the glorious reconciliation of all things.

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 reflects some of this when Paul writes,

For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. Indeed, we groan in this tent, desiring to put on our heavenly dwelling, since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.

So we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him.

To bring in a sporting analogy, we are playing away. We are playing our games away from our home stadium and our home city. And so while we recognise this tension we live in, this playing away from home, we also know that God is here with us. Through his Spirit he is present in our lives and in this world and at work in it. And so we strive to serve him, by his grace we strive to know him more and make him known to others in this world.

If you pray, ‘Let your kingdom come’ this week, may you be aware that he is with you in the tension that you live in. And may you call on him for the comfort and grace that you require this week.

Hallowed Be Your Name

When we are aware of someone’s name then we are aware of who they are.

A name defines us.

Some parents put time and meaning into the names they choose for their children, others don’t think too hard but come up with a name they like . But a name defines who we are. It represents us. It identifies who we are. Further, with time and experience, our name may become synonymous with particular things; with a particular family, with a particular place (if we’ve lived there a while), with a particular industry or workplace or organisation, and perhaps even a particular character trait.

I mean, think about the last few months here in Melbourne, how many times have you heard the Karen used in the media? Right now Karen is the name that represents someone who is an obnoxious, entitled, complainer.

But of course, this doesn’t rightly represent all Karen’s. We feel sorry for those people who are actually named Karen and are very nice people. Not all Karen’s are complainers, just like not all Wally’s are wasteful with water.

As we survey scripture we find there are over 100 names for God, many describing and revealing the character and person of God. In Matthew 6:9, continuing on from last week’s post, Jesus teaches us to honour the name of God, to hallow it, to recognise it as holy.

As we come to our Father in prayer we are to recognise that we are coming before God in all his majesty, holiness, righteousness, and beauty. We are children of the One who is all-powerful, all-glorious, all-excellent, and all-holy. And yet in prayer we are able to come before him and enjoy and adore him.

With this in mind, what then does it mean to adore God? I often feel we have inadequate words when we try to describe our adoration toward God.

You see when we adore something in human terms we have our heads affirming our adoration, our hearts yearning toward that which we adore, and our hands open to act toward that which we adore.

We think, we feel, and we act in adoration.

There is a head, heart, and hands aspect to this.

If we adore our particular football team we will watch the games, go to the games, buy a membership, debate others about how superior our team is, wear the scarf, and think often about our team and the players.

When we adore a person we will think about them, we will talk to them, we may have a photo of them on the wall, we will seek out the best for them–we want to be with them.

In prayer, as we show our adoration toward God, we come to him through relationship but we also come to him for who he is. We are drawn to God because of his greatness, his magnificence, his excellencies, his works for us and our world.

It can be stated rather crassly that the adoration component to prayer is simply repeating back to God how good he is. But I think this misses the point. We may well be telling God how good he is when we pray in adoration, but we do so because we recognise that God is God and we are not.

We are, after all, in a relationship with the God of the universe who has done things we cannot comprehend or understand, and whose character is displayed and told to us through his scriptures. Psalm 8 is a good example of adoration toward God, and we would do well to pray this Psalm as a prayer ourselves. It reads,

1 Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
You have covered the heavens with your majesty.

2 From the mouths of infants and nursing babies,
you have established a stronghold
on account of your adversaries
in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I observe your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you set in place,
4 what is a human being that you remember him,
a son of man that you look after him?
5 You made him little less than God
and crowned him with glory and honour.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
7 all the sheep and oxen,
as well as the animals in the wild,
8 the birds of the sky,
and the fish of the sea
that pass through the currents of the seas.

9 Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!

The whole Psalm resounds not only in praise for what God has done, but recognises the greatness of God. How majestic is your name in all the earth! It is a true Psalm of adoration toward God.

Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer that to begin prayer in adoration is prayer that highlights God’s goodness and greatness. It honours God’s name as holy. May we do this in our prayers during this time.

Our Father In Heaven

In the Anglican tradition, the Book of Common Prayer defines adoration as ‘…the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.’

I’m not sure about you but I find that hard. 

Prayer is often hard, and I don’t think many believers, whether they are new in the faith or those who are more mature in their faith, think they’re very good at it anyway. I know in different seasons my prayer life changes, it goes up and down, but it can also take on a different shape. Sometimes it is through a list, other times I write them out by hand, other times I pray while doing a particular task–like doing the dishes or vacuuming. 

But when we pray in adoration we turn our hearts and minds not only to the things of God, but to God himself. As we commune with God through prayer we do so in relationship with him.

In this COVID season, as much good there is that comes from text messages, phone calls, family gatherings over Zoom, and FaceTime calls with loved ones, nothing replaces the actual physical presence of being together with those we love and cherish. I’m sure you’ve felt this in recent months. Our relationships and friendships are still in existence during this time, we can still catch up with each other, but there is something missing when we aren’t in each other’s presence. Likewise, our relationship with God is made all the more when through prayer we come and enjoy being with him. 

As Jesus teaches about prayer in Matthew 6:9 he begins by pointing us toward adoration. Adoration in the context of relationship. 

At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer this is described as a familial relationship between God and his children–“Our Father who is in heaven”. It’s not quite as close as ‘Dear Daddy’, but it certainly has a familiarity, a relational tone, that shows a deep and abiding relationship between us and God. 

Through the scriptures God reveals to us that he is a father to his children. The Old Testament portrays God as a father to his people–Israel–in Exodus 3-4; Psalm 2; Psalm 103; and Hosea 11 to name a few. In the New Testament we find that God the Father is, of course, the unique father to his Son, Jesus Christ. And the writers of the New Testament show the intimacy we, as the corporate people of God, have with God as we are considered his children, his sons and daughters. As 1 John 3:1 reminds us, 

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God…” 

For those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, we know that the Creator of everything is not a father; he’s our Father. As children we are able to commune and relate to God as one who is our Father. 

Jesus teaches us about prayer as someone who is in perfect relationship with God the Father. Through his perfect and acceptable sacrifice for us on the cross we are able to step into the presence of God as his children. Through the blood of Jesus we have access to the Father, and we come to him as such in prayerful adoration. The relationship we have with God is one that is intimate and personal–a point we can never emphasise too much. 

It is important to recognise that not all earthly fathers live up to our expectations. Earthly fathers are not perfect; they fail us, they fail God, they fail themselves. Yet, whatever our relationship with our earthly father, it does not compare to the perfect love and care shown by God the Father toward us, his sons and daughters. 

Galatians 4:6-8 reminds us powerfully about our identity because of God’s love and care toward us,

“Because you are his sons [and daughters], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

As Jesus begins this model prayer for us, and as he teaches us a way to pray, he begins by stating the unbelievable truth that we are in relationship with God–the Creator God of the universe–who we are able to call ‘our heavenly father’. 

Easter Reflection – The Isolated Jesus

This Easter is weird.

It’s weird because it’s not what we’re used to. It’s not something we’re familiar with. It’s something new. This Easter is weird because we can’t gather as God’s people in the churches we’re part of, or celebrate meals together with friends and family, or head away on long weekend holiday adventures like usual.

Instead, we’re at home. We’re at home with those in our household, isolated from others, and perhaps going a bit stir crazy by now too. But all of this is for that important cause, the cause the government has called us into. This Easter we’ve been called to save lives by staying at home.

Copy of The Grieving of the (Non) Gathering of God’s People

Living this isolated life is but a momentary trial, and while Easter may have a unique shape for us this year its meaning and significance does not change. Easter is still central to the Christian calendar, it still speaks of God’s display of sacrificial love to the world. It still reveals to us a God of grace who puts his life on the line for us, cleanses us from sin, and gives hope and peace to our anxious hearts. The meaning and significance of Easter doesn’t change despite the circumstances we may find ourselves this weekend.

And yet in reflection I wonder whether this gives us an opportunity to enter into the ‘aloneness’ of Jesus. Despite Jesus being surrounded by people, particularly for the three years he was with his disciples, there are indications that Jesus too felt isolated in what we now know were his final 24 hours before his death.

First, in his final meal with his disciples Jesus eats with his knowing betrayer. Judas, one who has followed him for a number of years, is about to gain 30 pieces of silver for delivering Jesus into the hands of the Romans. We read in John 13:21, “…Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified [to his disciples], “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” The act of betrayal is sure to feel isolating for Jesus as a relationship he invested in has turned against him.

Second, his disciples still don’t understand what Jesus has been talking about. In Luke 22:14-30, still in the context of the final Passover before Jesus’ death, the disciples begin to argue with each other about which one of them is the greatest. After hearing Jesus explain the significance of their final meal and the betrayal to come they end up selfishly disputing their own importance. I imagine Jesus throwing his hands up at this point, exasperated at his own disciples incompetence. An isolating feeling for any leader of any thing.

Third, at the time of his arrest Jesus’ disciples scatter far and wide. The disciples have experienced Jesus for three whole years teaching, performing miracles, and showing himself as the Son of God. Yet, in a matter of moments his disciples disappear. When Jesus is arrested we read of this disciple dispersion in Matthew 26:55-56,

55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

If Jesus didn’t feel isolated and alone up to this point, he surely did now.

Fourth, as Jesus succumbs to his death on the cross we read of his isolation from God. You may remember that moments before Jesus dies on the cross he cries out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1-2). Jesus is essentially quoting the opening two verses of Psalm 22–words he would’ve known by heart. And as he calls out to God in this way he is in a place he had not experienced before, isolated and alone, apart from God. Smarter people than I can explain how this might work within the context of his humanity and divinity, what it means for the Holy Trinity at this point. But whatever the case, as Jesus takes the sin of the world upon himself the Father turns away from him, and places his rightful wrath and judgement for the sin of the world upon him.

The isolation of Jesus is vivid, real, and powerful.

As we enter into Easter this weekend perhaps it is worth considering the isolation and ‘aloneness’ of Jesus. We may resonate with feelings of isolation and aloneness as we sit at home with our friends, partners, family, or simply by ourself. All our social distancing measures mean we lack touch, we talk to friends through screens, and we only go out for essential needs. Our isolation is vivid and real for us.

At no time do I want to suggest that our isolation is similar to that of Jesus. We may have similar feelings but the circumstances are certainly different, aren’t they? Yet due to our experience of the Easter season we may approach this time in a way that we’ve never considered before.

As you remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus this weekend may you be reminded of the One who has saved your life. Jesus, the one who has given his life for your sake, enabling the forgiveness of sin, peace for your soul, and an everlasting relationship as part of the family of God.

Podcast: #4 of The Sean & Jon Show

The boys give life reports, talk Lycra shorts and Easter isolation thoughts.

Topics Discussed:

  • Maundy Thursday
  • Easter & Exercise (the lycra story)
  • Hot Cross Buns
  • The ‘aloneness’ of Jesus and our ‘aloneness’
  • The sacrifice of Jesus

And we also referenced one of my recent articles: https://joncoombs.com/2020/04/04/the-grieving-of-the-non-gathering-of-gods-people/

You can listen here, and also subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Steven PD Smith: The Australian Jesus

For those of us who take a glimmer of interest in Australian cricket, this week has been a memorable one. The Australian cricket team, so often a symbol of our nation, has begun the five-match series against our arch-rivals, England, competing for the holy grail­–The Ashes.

And there is something about test match cricket that enables allusion to the Christian faith. The hope our nation puts into the team’s success, the perseverance required for a five-day match, and the ebb and flow, the highs and lows, of what takes place out on the field. Each of these things are aspects of what it is to be a disciple of Jesus–hope and endurance, joy and suffering.

Copy of A Sent People - Part 5_ Being Part of the Answer

But in this past week we have seen the return of king, the resurrection of the spiritual leader of the team, the one in whom our nation trusts.

For a number of years, cricket fans especially, have been in awe of the ability of Steven PD Smith as a batsman. He has led time and time again as a player and as a captain.

But some 18 months ago it all came crashing down. Like Good Friday for us believers, something seemingly bad occurred. Under Smith’s leadership there was cheating, #sandpapergate as it became known, and caused uproar for the Australian public that ricocheted around the cricket world. Down came the leader, whipped and beaten by the relentless pressure, by stupid decisions, and soon enough expelled from the captaincy and the team. Australian cricket’s Good Friday event unfolded, leaving the team, the disciples, in a confused and disappointed mess.

And so, for a year and a half Australian test cricket has been trying to deal with its Easter Saturday. A day of awkwardness, a day of wondering. It is a day with a certain uneasiness about what has just happened and deliberating what’s going to take place going forward. Here we sit, trying to comprehend the awful nature of what has occurred and seeking strategies to cope in order to move forward. Where has the hope gone? What has happened to our saviour? Do we continue on in the same fashion or do we scatter?

But this week we have seen the one who restores and rescues us as Australian cricket fans.

Through two magnificent innings of 140-odd runs we witnessed the resurrection. Our redeemer has returned and all will be forgiven.

Easter Sunday has arrived, and we couldn’t help but be pulled into the hope and joy that comes from such a performance. Whether listening on the radio or watching on TV, we became drawn into the unfolding drama. In the Bible we read of how the disciples were initially shocked to hear that Jesus had risen, and so they ran to the tomb themselves into order to believe. We too became a nation who had to see for ourselves such greatness and glory.

For now, hope has been restored. The joy of watching cricket has returned. The disciples have been re-ignited for the mission. And so we wait, we watch, we have faith and want to follow the king.

When all thought was lost, we see what has been found. We have hope and look to the saviour, seeking sporting salvation. As the coming weeks progress we as a cricketing nation once again put our hope in the Australian Jesus, Steven PD Smith.

A Sent People – Part 4: The Kingdom of God Is Near

This is part four of a 5-part devotional series based on Luke 10:1-12 (See part one and two and three) It includes the reading of Scripture, considering its teaching, asking questions of ourselves for reflection, and applying it in practical ways. Enjoy.


Part 4: The Kingdom of God Is Near

Passage: Luke 10:9-11

Heal the sick who are there and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

A Sent People - Part 4_ The Kingdom of God Is Near

Consider:

There are times when the people of God are not accepted. This is to be expected. At times it may be worth persevering through the dislike but at other times it’s not worth it. It’s time to move on.

Jesus encourages those he sends to heal the sick and say to the people ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ As Luke outlines in v1, Jesus will soon be following these workers and coming by the towns and villages they minister to. What is important is the message. The message that the kingdom is coming is to be made known to the people. How they respond will consequently be judged by God in the future. The message is to be made public, but so is the recognition that they have rejected this message. God’s workers will need to discern when it is appropriate to move on to other pastures. However, they will make it known that their rejection will be public, and the message is still the message.

But how do we show that the Kingdom of God is near? What are some practical examples that lead us to conclude that the Kingdom of God is working within others and in particular places?

One way to see God working in our lives, or in a particular place, is to look with intentionality at the various ‘communities of practice’ that operate in your life or the life of others.

These communities of practice are activities that naturally occur, and you may already be involved in, but become places where God can use you to share the message of the Kingdom. For example, you may be involved in a sporting club where your involvement can be a witness to others. To take it a step further you can be intentional about how you approach this activity. Rather than simply being there for the sport and fun it becomes a harvest field; where you are now one of the workers who are building authentic relationships with your teammates. There may be a person or peace there welcoming you into the club or team, and it is important to be on the lookout for a person like this. This type of intentionality is an important key in seeing the activities you do during the week as being part of being a witness as a follower of Jesus, drawing people closer to the Kingdom of God. This could also be how you understand your knitting club, your book club, your art class, your uni subjects, your school class, etc etc.

Jesus is making it clear that he has come to bring in the kingdom of God. He is following his sent workers and as he sends them he reveals to those in his hearing that he will bring this kingdom of God to the people, households, towns and villages that these 72 go to.

Judgement will come and for those who respond negatively to the message of Jesus, this Good News of the kingdom of God, will be found wanting. The judgement upon them will be worse than it was for Sodom in the Old Testament, where that city was destroyed because of its disobedience and active rejection of God and his ways (Genesis 19).

Ask Yourself:

  • There are times when moving on from relationships seems to be required if the mission of God is to be fulfilled. How do you think we can discern this in the relationships we have with others?
  • God will judge those who hear the revelation of his kingdom. Whether they respond positively or negatively is not ours to judge, it is for God.
  • People will accept and reject the Good News, this message of the kingdom. What stops us from sharing the message of the kingdom to others?
  • God’s judgement will be full and forceful for those who reject him. Jesus has already said the harvest is plentiful, how can we be part of the solution? What can we be part of in order to help people from this judgement?

Take A Step:

  1. Write down on a piece of paper who and how you will share an aspect of your relationship with Jesus to someone in the next fortnight.
  2. Pray and seek God’s guidance on which relationships in your life need to be held loosely. Seek out a mature believer for their guidance in this matter.
  3. What part of your week is most like a ‘community of practice’? How could you be more intentional about your relationships and weekly activities for the work of the Kingdom?

A Sent People – Part 3: People of Peace

This is part three of a 5-part devotional series based on Luke 10:1-12 (See part one and two) It includes the reading of Scripture, considering its teaching, asking questions of ourselves for reflection, and applying it in practical ways. Enjoy.


Part 3: Person of Peace

Passage: Luke 10:5-8

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the labourer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you.”

A Sent People - Part 3_ People of Peace

Consider:

Now Jesus seems to be giving advice on how to greet people to those he is sending out. He is expecting them to be entering people’s houses as part of their ministry. As they meet new people in the towns and villages the workers will be entering houses and begin building relationships. Jesus encourages those he sends to come into a place with an attitude of peace. They are to approach each household with an intention of bringing peace. When this has been given, it seems it is evident someone of peace will be there. If a ‘person of peace’ is in this place then the peace will rest upon them. A relationship will be built and a friendship ensue. They will not be against the worker, but will be helpful and seek to encourage their work. They will be open to the worker of the harvest and give them a fair hearing.

Who is a ‘person of peace’? A person of peace is someone who likes you and you like them. They are not a believer initially but is someone who welcomes you and receives you into their life. They may serve you and you may invest in them. They are a helper in connecting you to other relationships in their network. Over time it may be the case that they turn to follow Jesus themselves, but initially they are helpful friends in the task of spreading the message of the Kingdom.

If this person of peace isn’t found within a particular house then it will be evident. The worker in the harvest will discern whether or not there is peace in the house they go to. If this isn’t the case they will move on to the next place.

When accepting the hospitality of others it is encouraged to stay in the same house. This will bring honour upon that house as they continue to provide for the worker of the harvest. This also shows that the worker isn’t someone who leeches off others by moving from house to house getting the choice hospitality from different families in the town. A deeper relationship is built with that one household rather than the shallow friendships of many people.

During their stay at a particular town they are to contribute to society. The labourer deserves their wages and are to not be freeloading from the community. They are to work and contribute to the community, serving the community during their stay. They will be provided for, this provision ultimately coming from God, in the needs that they require – food and shelter. It is not appropriate for the labourer to be picky but to eat what is in front of them and accept the hospitality provided by the household.

Ask Yourself:

  • It is important for labourers of the harvest to approach their mission with grace and peace. When you are involved in ministry to your neighbours, or through your church, do you have this attitude?
  • Relationships with certain people take time and require discernment. Are you building deep relationships with people in your community? Are there some relationships that you need to ‘move on’ from?
  • God will provide the needs of those who work in his harvest field. Are you taking on too much yourself, do you need to handover your needs and wants to God and trust him for them?
  • As God’s workers we are to contribute to the community, both church and wider community. How are you serving the communities you are part of? In what ways can you build relationships through serving and helping others?

Take A Step:

  1. In the next three weeks resolve to invite someone you wouldn’t normally to your home for a meal.
  2. As you think about the different communities you are involved in, pray for discernment as to what relationships should be a priority for you.
  3. As you meet someone new in the next little while make an effort to be a person or peace.

A Sent People – Part 2: Travel Lightly

This is part two of a 5-part devotional series based on Luke 10:1-12 (See part one) It includes the reading of Scripture, considering its teaching, asking questions of ourselves for reflection, and applying it in practical ways. Enjoy.


Part 2: Travel Lightly

Passage: Luke 10:4

“Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.”

A Sent People - Part 2_ Travel Lightly

Consider:

Jesus continues talking to those he is sending out. This time he tells them to travel lightly. In fact, it almost sounds like they aren’t to take anything at all. Furthermore, when they see people it seems they are to be rude to them by continuing on to their destination, ignoring any greetings given. But this isn’t quite the case.

Those being sent out into the harvest have what they need. They have the Lord Jesus for protection and all the material needs required. They will be supplied with all they need while out in the harvest, nothing more is needed. What they have in their wallets is sufficient, their bag and shoes are good enough, and those they meet may well hold them up as they head out to the field.

As God calls those to be workers in the harvest it is important to understand the importance of travelling lightly. There is a need to let go of comfort and not to be weighed down by the materialism, consumerism, and security that surrounds us today. Just as it is easier to get through an airport terminal when only having carry-on luggage, so too it is easier for the workers of the harvest to keep things simple and take very little on their journey. They are to leave behind that which binds them, which holds them up, which stops them from moving forward. They are to continue to share the message of the Kingdom to those in their influence.

This not only speaks of the physical and material lightness required in mission but also the openness we have in our weeks and relationships. There is much that holds us up from sharing the message of the Kingdom, nothing more so than weeks filled with activities and appointments. There is something to be said about giving space in our weeks so we can be open to how God is leading and moving in our lives. More directly, the more intentional we are about leaving behind that which binds will mean we are more open to see God move and have the space to respond to His leading. This might mean that we have the freedom to find new ways of building relationships. It may mean we have more energy to be hospitable. It may mean we find ourselves drawn closer to Jesus and his mission because we are open to seeing how he will use us to build the Kingdom.

There will always be people who wish to talk and seek to be helpful for the workers of the Kingdom. Eastern culture is a hospitable culture and a culture that includes many greetings and customs. These can hold the workers up if they are to greet every person they meet along the way. Instead, Jesus encourages them to be so focussed on the harvest that they spend no time worrying about the custom of greetings in their society. They are not to get distracted in these things. Refusing hospitality from their own people is not looked upon fondly, but Jesus directs his workers to get on with the task of sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom and make it a priority.

Rather than being drawn into these meaningless greetings followers of Jesus are to build authentic relationships with people. Over time these greetings become meaningless because they aren’t said with intention, it’s just what people do when they see each other. On the other hand, authentic relationships are to be built, and through these friendships the sharing of the Good News can be told in conversation or seen through actions of hospitality and care.

Ask Yourself:

  • When Jesus sends his workers out into the harvest field he gives them all that they require. Are you trusting that Jesus has equipped you in your ministry right now?
  • Being a harvester requires us to carry little. What do you need to lay aside in order to walk more lightly as a pilgrim of Jesus?
  • There is much to distract us from the mission God has given us. Is there anything distracting you from being in the harvest field right now? What can you do to change that?

Take A Step:

  1. Spend some time in prayer thanking God for the gifts he has given you and the way he continues to equip you.
  2. Write down three things in your life that is holding you up in your relationship with Jesus. Lift them up in prayer and give them over to God.
  3. What is distracting you from being involved in God’s harvest? Talk to someone who can help you be involved in ministry in your neighbourhood more easily.

A Sent People – Part 1: The Abundant Harvest

This is part one of a 5-part devotional series based on Luke 10:1-12. It includes the reading of Scripture, considering its teaching, asking questions of ourselves for reflection, and applying it in practical ways. Enjoy. 


Part 1: The Abundant Harvest

Passage: Luke 10:1-3

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go your way; behold I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves”.

A Sent People - Part 1_ The Abundant Harvest

Consider:

As Jesus commissions his followers to take the Kingdom of God to the towns and villages in the region he begins by explaining what is before them. They are few, but those who need to hear this message are many. Jesus himself will follow the labourers but these labourers are an important part of the Kingdom of God. They are people sent by Jesus himself.

Jesus uses the farming imagery of a harvest, where there is plenty of work to do yet there are not many followers. Few followers of Jesus are willing to be harvesters. At the end of Luke 9 Jesus talks of the difficulty it is to be a follower of Jesus. There is a cost to following Him. One of those costs will include being part of a small group who intentional speak the message of the Kingdom to those who do not know him. This could also be seen as a privilege.

Recognising this dilemma Jesus calls on the 72 to pray to the Lord of the harvest for more workers. There is always a need for more people to take up their cross and become harvesters for the Lord. There is always more need for people to share the message of Jesus with others and be part of helping them come to know the Lord. It is people that Jesus encourages these workers to pray for. It is people who God uses to help bring others to an understanding of who Jesus is and what is involved in His Kingdom. The Lord has his hand over the harvest, he knows them and will call them to Himself, and he uses his followers to help achieve this calling.

Linked to this cost of following Jesus is the reality in which the workers find themselves in. Those who come to work for the Lord and seek to be harvesters will be walking into difficulty. This time Jesus uses the imagery of lambs being among wolves. Lambs are creatures without much protection, they can’t protect themselves but need a shepherd to take care of them. They are followers yet can’t look after themselves when danger is around. Wolves on the other hand search and are on the lookout to catch a lamb and devour it. A follower of Jesus sent into the harvest is like a lamb, protected by Jesus the True Shepherd, being chased and harassed by those who seek to have them devoured. They are in a vulnerable position and will be relying on the protection of the Lord as they seek to share the message of the Kingdom.

Ask Yourself:

  • Jesus sends believers out. Following Jesus requires stepping out into the wider community and witnessing to the Kingdom of God. In what areas of your community are you being a witness?
  • There is a desperate need for people to commit to being a worker in the harvest. Is the Lord calling you to be a full-time worker?
  • More workers for the harvest should be on our prayer list. God wants us to pray for people to take up the task of working for the Kingdom. Can you pray for more workers?
  • Those already in the harvest working are in a vulnerable position. Pray for those you know who are currently working at sharing the Gospel. They are in need of our prayers.

Take A Step:

  1. Spend some time in prayer, ask God what part of the harvest you are called to be part of?
  2. Find out what missionaries your church supports, spend 10 minutes this coming week praying for them as they work in the harvest.
  3. Ask someone in your congregation that has experience in being a worker for the Lord. What was their experience in being sent out into the harvest? What were the challenges for them as they served God in this way?