A few years ago, Barna and the Seed Company released a study that found that 51% of professed Christians did not know about the Great Commission. Only 17% recognized it and could espouse its meaning for the life of the believer. File this under “Issues of our Decline.” If a declining number of a declining number (professed Christians and church attenders) even know one of the primary purpose statements for every believer and every church from the author and founder of our faith, could this be a key indicator of sure decline.
In the Great Commission Jesus lays out the plan for world evangelization.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded” Matthew 28:19-20.
- Go – as you spread out across the world
- Make Disciples – tell and recruit others to follow Jesus
- of all nations – don’t discriminate. The message about Jesus was and is for all races and people groups
- Baptizing them – lead them to commit their lives to Jesus
- Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded – teach them to observe and live by the words of Jesus
The Great Commission gave the early church their marching orders, and its likely that if you are a born again Christian today, it’s only because someone took seriously and observed the Great Commission.
As we establish churches that are more organized, more theologically astute, better with technology, multi-whatever, kid friendly, etc., etc.; let’s not forget the command that launched the movement – The Great Commission. We can’t assume they know. We must return again and again to the basics of our mission espoused by Jesus in the Great Commission.
- Am I living in obedience to the Great Commission by making disciples where I live and work?
- Am I impressing the Great Commission on those I influence and lead?
- How is my church passing on the Great Commission to those in our congregation?
- Does your church have a plan to make disciples? Is it working? (Robby Gallaty)
- How can we make the Great Commission known in our churches and groups?
In the midst of a lot of brain fog moments, I did manage to get a little writing and research done in 2020. 55 articles worth. More than I expected. Here are the top 10 most read, shared, etc. from these contributions. Thank you for following, reading, sharing, and encouraging me on my journey as a disciple this year. I’ve got a few drafts ready for 2021. Hope we can all bear fruit that remains in this new year.
- Dealing With Rejection in Ministry – LINK – “There is too much at stake to allow the rejection of a few to keep you from pursuing the high call of God to reach the world. Break free from the fear and the pain of rejection.”
- Covid-19 as an Acts 8:1 Moment for the Church – LINK – “God always wanted the message and the people dispersed and scattered. Persecution was the scattering agent that led to exponential growth. Could Covid-19 serve as a 21st century scattering agent?”
- Lost in Louisiana – LINK – “a compilation of Parish by Parish data that shows how many are potentially lost, how many evangelicals there are, and how many attend southern baptist churches across Louisiana.”
- Would Jesus Wear a Mask? – LINK – “What does it say about my heart if wearing a mask or not wearing a mask is of greater concern and riles more passion in me than the lostness and brokenness of people in the world?”
- Giving When the Church Can’t Gather – LINK – “There are at least five ways for people to be regular, sacrificial, and cheerful givers to your church, no matter what.”
- Lost in Louisiana’s Metros – LINK – “Louisiana has nine Metropolitan Statistical areas, which includes all of our major cities and 34 of our 64 parishes. 82% of the population of Louisiana lives in one of these Metro areas. So how are we doing at reaching Louisiana’s Metros?”
- Mobilizing Prayer with a Prayer Calendar – LINK – “If we want to make disciples, we must do what Jesus did, and he prayed regularly and consistently. Go beyond encouraging prayer. Mobilize prayer and expand the kingdom as Jesus did.”
- It’s Time to Think Outward about Kids Ministry – LINK – “93% of kids do not go to anyone’s church. How can we get the gospel to them?“
- If it’s Safe – LINK – “How tied is your faith to safety? Have you said no to an opportunity or a side of town because of the idol and illusion of safety? Is your faith in God lived out only in safe, comfortable environments where you’re never challenged, never have to sacrifice, never have to stress over the needs of others?”
- The Father’s Heart for the Lost – LINK – “Who’s the one that I’m going after right now? Do I celebrate one sinner’s repentance or only the crowds faithful participation?”
In the beauty of the Christmas season, don’t forget the messy reason that it came about. The reason for the season and the savior was to deal with the sinfulness of humanity.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
- 1 John 3:5 – “Jesus came to take away our sins…”
- Luke 7:34 – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
- Luke 19:10 – “the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
- Matthew 20:28 – “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
These purpose statements of Jesus remind us of the messiness of our lives that can only be cleaned up through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- He took out the trash of our lives. Jesus is our Savior and Sacrifice who took away our sin (1 John 3:5).
- He sits down at our messy table. Jesus is a friend of sinners, with a love that looks past our sinfulness to make relationship with God possible (Luke 7:34)
- He paid the price to get me out of the mess I was in. Jesus’ life served as a ransom for my sin enslaved soul (Matthew 20:28).
- He rescued me from the edge of the cliff. Jesus is a shepherd who finds the lost sheep and joyfully takes us into his arms (Luke 19:10)
These purpose statements also should remind us of the mission that Jesus now has us on. Our mission is not about safety, personal achievement, or self-actualization. Our mission is about sin and its impact on humanity. We join Jesus by:
- Sharing the story of his love and sacrifice that overcomes sin.
- Befriending, not separating from sinners in order to share Jesus with them.
- Living sacrificially to serve others and show them the work of Christ in our lives.
- Taking risk and going after the lost one until he or she is found.
This Christmas, let’s celebrate the reality that God, through Christ, was willing to enter the world to take on the messiness of our sin that we might know Him and join Him on this messy mission for lost souls.
This verse is repeated six times in the Old Testament and is great to memorize and meditate on during the month of November.
1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, his faithful love endures forever.”
(Also found at Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 118:29; 136:1).
So you can memorize one and say you memorized six! Lol!
Thanksgiving Memory Verses
Join me in memorizing 30 Thanksgiving verses on the Bible Memory App this month: LINK.
I’ve used the Bible Memory App daily for almost three years now. It’s been a great devotional tool. Helps me hide the word in my heart. And, only 100% better than scrolling Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/TikTock, or whatever. Start a new habit with the Bible Memory App.
“And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.”
2 Corinthians 5:15
One of the reasons Jesus gave his life, was to rescue us from the dead end of living for ourselves. We’re made and saved for so much more than self-love. And it’s in trusting in and living for Christ and for others that we discover more peace and power than selfishness and looking within can offer. Lord, save us from the dead end of selfishness.
“we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace.” 2 Corinthians 1:12
Godly sincerity and purity can also mean simplicity, singleness of mind, purity of motives, graciousness. Insincerity, duplicity, selfish motives, entitlement prevents us from seeing others as Christ would. What insincerities reside in my heart? Do I use people or love people? Am I as gracious toward others weaknesses and faults as I am toward my own? Am I singleminded in my desire for people? Lord, test our motives. Make us pure, sincere, and gracious.
“don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master… nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 MSG
What holds you back? Why do you hesitate? What is the real master of your life? How much time is wasted on temporal things? What would it look like to let it all go and go throw your self into the mission of God? Lord, help us throw off half-hearted ness and hesitation. Help us throw caution to the wind and pursue your mission.
“human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
A broken world and brokenness in people often produce anger, but anger never repairs the brokenness. Only the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ can do that. We pursue it not with angry actions and reactions but through prayer, compassion toward others, forgiveness, bold gospel sharing, generosity….
Lord, produce your righteousness in me. Save me from and forgive me for unproductive human anger.
“But the word of God spread and multiplied.” Acts 12:24 #devo
Researchers say that each person infected with Coronavirus can spread it to 3 others. If those 3 each spread it to three and each of those spread it to 3, in 10 cycles, you’re at 59,000!
Would that this were true of believers spreading the gospel as well. God has not placed protective measures in place to stop the spread of our faith. We do that by remaining silent, socially distancing from the lost, and leaving the spread to professionals. The curve has flattened on the growth of churches and we are responsible. If you believe, think of three to infect with the gospel today. You may start a viral movement of transformation.
The Christian life is a race to the bottom. The goal is to serve, not to be served. To sacrifice for others benefit rather than for our own. The goal is not to make a name for ourselves but to serve without recognition. Entitlement has no place in the heart of a disciple. He lives for others with the goal of emulating the sacrifice of Jesus, who while on earth, chose others over himself every chance he had.