Global Missions Week 1

Readings for this week August 29 – September 2
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

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Day 1  – Between the Trees

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Gen 2:8-9, 3:22-24, Rev 22:1-5

A couple of weeks ago we looked at how we tell the gospel story; how we tell it and the importance of where we start. As we enter Global Missions Week we will look again at the breadth of God’s amazing restoration project, and hopefully build our confidence in partnering with God and his mission.

“Our mandate for world evangelisation is the whole Bible. It is to be found in the creation of God (because of which all human beings are responsible to him), in the character of God (as outgoing, loving, compassionate, not willing that any should perish, desiring that all should come to repentance), in the promises of God (that all nations will be blessed through Abraham’s seed and will become the Messiah’s inheritance), in the Christ of God (now exalted with universal authority, to receive universal acclaim), in the Spirit of God (who convicts of sin, witnesses to Christ, and impels the church to evangelize) and in the church of God (which is a multinational, missionary community, under orders to evangelize until Christ returns)” John Stott.

In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve are banished from the garden intended to be their nurturing home, in part, to distance them from the Tree of Life. With their ultimate good in mind, God could not let them live forever in the sin and separation they had chosen through disobedience. In Revelation 22 John’s vision of heaven contains the Tree of Life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations, available to all. We could say that we live in the time between the two trees. And it is the mission of God which spans the gap between Genesis 3 and Revelation 22. That entire, long, tumultuous journey is the mission of God. What faithfulness!

Question to Consider
Go back through the involvement of God (creation, character, promises, Christ, Spirit, church). Choose one as a focus for your praise and thanksgiving today.

Prayer
Almighty God, what an audacious vision, what a testament to your faithfulness. Enlarge my vision of your work in the world that you love. Help me find my part in the story as your partner and co-worker. Thank you for such a privilege, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2  – God’s Glorious Surprise

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God  (2 min)

Scripture Reading – Genesis 12:1-7, Galatians 3:6-9

Genesis 3 – 11 is a rollercoaster of devastation; what was created “good” has become cursed. Disobedience has resulted in guilt and fear. Jealousy, anger, murder, vengeance, violence, corruption…the list goes on. The builders of the Tower of Babel arrogantly thought to conquer heaven, and yet display their insecurity in not wanting to be scattered across the earth as God intended. The sheer scale of chaos is overwhelming. Till God steps in with a solution as compassionate as it is comprehensive. “What can God do next? Something that only God could have thought of. God sees an elderly, childless couple in the land of Babel itself and decides to make them the launch pad of his whole mission of cosmic redemption” C. Wright.

The thrust of God’s promise to Abraham is this:

“Go…and be a blessing…and all nations will be blessed through you.”

Does that sound like a great commission? In fact, it is the foundation for the Great Commission Jesus gave in Matthew 28. This is the gospel – all the way back in Genesis! No wonder Paul talks of Abraham receiving “the gospel in advance.” Out of chaos, this was good news!  The problem was vast, but the solution, which would take the rest of the whole biblical story, was consummate.

“Many people are rejecting the gospel today, not because they perceive it to be false, but because they perceive it to be trivial. They are looking for an integrated worldview that makes sense of all their experience. We learn from Paul that we cannot preach the gospel of Jesus without the doctrine of God, or the cross without creation, or salvation without judgement, or vice versa. Today’s world needs a bigger gospel, the full gospel of Scripture, what Paul later in Ephesus was to call “the entire plan of God” (Acts 20:27NAB)” John Stott.

Questions to Consider
Is our gospel too small?

What does God’s response to Genesis 3-11 tell us about his character?

Why might God have launched his rescue with an elderly barren couple?

Prayer
Father God, I praise you for your compassion towards your creation and the comprehensive answer to our sin. You are a great and loving God, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3  – Watching for the Footprints of God’s Blessings

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Genesis 28:10-17

What is this blessing that God intends to come through Abraham and his family? It’s easy to jump to answers like, being “blessed… in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” Eph1:3. True, but we must also think of the broad context of God speaking to Abraham. Blessing or blessed is repeatedly used in the creation account, both following the command to multiply and fill the seas and earth, and in relation to the gift of rest on the seventh day. We find similar blessings given to Noah after the flood Gen 9. “So when it comes to 12:1-3, the word of blessing must, from the context so far, include at least the concept of fruitfulness, multiplication, spreading, filling and abundance. It is a richly life-affirming word. This is what God wants for the nations of humanity” C. Wright.

Neither is blessing just about “stuff.” It is relational, both vertical and horizontal. Vertical in knowing the God who blesses us, and that we seek to faithfully serve, and horizontal in that blessing is intended to flow out to those around us. It is in this sense that we talk about blessing as missional or self-replicating. There are many examples of people being blessed through contact with God’s people.

· Laban is blessed through God’s blessings on his nephew Jacob Gen 30:27-30

· Potiphar is blessed by having Joseph work for him. (Gen 39:5)

· Pharaoh is blessed by Jacob (Gen 47:7,10)

The disruption and curse begun in Genesis 3 continues throughout the biblical story, but now alongside it is the story of blessing begun by God and spread throughout the whole world by this people. Let’s constantly remind ourselves that we are people who carry this blessing, share this blessing, and bear witness to the footprints of God’s blessing in and to the world.

Questions to Consider
When have I experienced God’s blessing simply by being around someone who follows Jesus? Give thanks for these people today.

Do I view ‘blessing’ as something primarily to be shared?

Prayer
Loving Father, please make me a blessing carrier and distributor as much as a blessing receiver, so that your name may be glorified in the whole world, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Bookends

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Romans 1:1-6, 26:25-27

Hundreds of years after Abraham, the story of God’s blessing is continuing and now being spread by a zealous Pharisee turned Apostle named Paul. How did Paul regard his place in God’s story? He gives a very strong hint by a phrase repeated at the beginning and end of his most profound letter: “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his [Christ’s] name among all the nations” ESV. Paul gave his entire life for this one end. He worked tirelessly to produce followers of Jesus who were like Abraham, and not just in the nation of Israel but in all nations.

Paul knew that not only did he inherit the blessings promised to Abraham, but he also inherited the mission of Abraham; that is to be a blessing to the nations. Paul also recognised that linked to this blessing was obedience. This is why he writes about the “obedience of faith.” In one sense Abraham had done nothing to deserve or motivate God to bless him. But in another sense there is an implied condition to God’s blessing, and that condition is obedience. God had asked Abraham to get up and go somewhere…without much of a map! “All that God goes on to promise depends on that. No leaving, no blessing. Bluntly put, if Abraham had not got up and left for Canaan, if he had not trusted God enough to obey him, the story would have ended right there. The Bible would be a thin book indeed” C. Wright.  Faith-obedience, they are inseparable. This was the call for Abraham, this was the call for Paul. This is still the call to us.

Question to Consider
Abraham was called to “leave and go…” You might not be asked to physically leave and go, but what aspects of our society might you be required to “leave” to be a follower like Abraham in faith-obedience?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, examine my heart and show me the places that I cling to and am reluctant to “leave” in being obedient to you. Help me see that trust is not enough without active obedience. Please increase my awareness of your love for all the nations of the world and your desire to bless them. May I play my part in being a blessing to others. In Jesus name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5  – Raison d’etre   (Reason for Being)

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mathew 28:16-20

We’ve looked again at the biblical narrative, the story of God’s initiative to offer blessing to people who had turned their backs on his good and perfect plan. We’ve looked at God’s choosing Abraham whose family would hold a special role in taking God’s blessing to all the nations of the earth. We’ve considered how people are blessed through encountering God’s followers and how trusting this God involves obedience. So who are we, the followers of today? We are those next in line to receive the batten, to carry the torch, to be the vehicle of taking God’s blessing to a needy world. This is our reason for being.

In this passage as Jesus prepares to leave his astonished and confused disciples we see an interesting coming together of worship and mission, faith and doubt. “When they saw him, they worshiped him.” An encounter with Jesus will result in worship. Yet some doubted. These honest folk were not rebuked or sent away. They too were part of the group to whom Jesus gave his final instructions. And just as the word came to Abraham, “Go…” so Jesus tells his followers to “…go.” It carries the sense, “as you go”, “everywhere you go” along with the assurance of Jesus’ constant companionship. Encounter, worship, doubt and faith, all tied up in mission.

“The origins of the church go back, not just to Pentecost, but to Abraham. And the missionary impulse that we find in Acts was no sudden change, but the outworking of the logic of biblical faith and history. The command of Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit combined to send the church out in mission to the ends of the earth, as those who, having received the blessing of Abraham, must now be the means of passing it on. That was how the story worked, and that was the story they knew they were in” C. Wright.

Question to Consider
Ask God today for an increased sense of your part in his story.

Prayer
Holy God, you are worthy of my worship, my trust and my obedience. Continue to journey with me as I go into your world to be a blessing to others, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)