September 27, 2015 | text: Philemon 1:1-7
During the spring and summer the two giant magnolia trees in our front yard had dozens of those large, flowery blossoms magnolias are known for. That fragrance is one of the defining characteristics of Southern living. I love the smell of magnolia blossoms; I hate those big stupid pods that fall out of the tree. They’re of kind of like pine cones only heavier. And at this time of year each cone has about 20 or so bright red seeds. Every one of those of those seeds has the potential to produce another full size magnolia tree. That’s the goal of every tree, bush and flowering plant; to produce the next generation of its species.
How many of you here learned about Christianity from someone of another faith? Did anyone seek Christ after hearing an atheist describe him? I am willing to bet that every born-again believer present today learned about Christ from another Christian believer. Just like those magnolia trees in our front yard, that’s just how it works. Seeds of faith are sown by the faithful. The Great Commission was Jesus telling his followers to go out and produce more of their kind. As we finish our month-long series on Mission Georgia, there are three things we do together throughout the year to support the work of missions.
Pray. Paul mentioned Philemon in his prayers. Philemon was the leader of a house church in Colossae (i.e. Book of Colossians). Paul commends his love for the saints and mentions that saints have been refreshed through him. Paul also thanked God for the church at Ephesus and made mention of them in his prayers (Eph. 1:16). He said the same thing in his letter to the Thessalonians. In each case he always thanked God for them or else always remembered them in prayer. To a young pastor named Timothy Paul wrote: I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4) Christians are to pray for other Christians. We are to pray for rulers and those in authority. We are to pray for the lost that they might become believers and followers of Christ. Praying for missionaries and those they minister to is one way that we support their work and the spread of the Gospel. Prayer is one component of fulfilling the Great Commission.
Give. In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9:9-14) Paul makes his case for vocational ministry. Pastors, missionaries and support staff are employed in the career of ministry. Paul issues stern warnings to those that would seek great profit or ill-gotten gain from what should be service to others, but full time pastors, preachers and evangelists are called for in the New Testament. That is only possible when God’s people contribute financially to the work. We’re not talking about tithing in this case either. We are talking about giving back to God the firstfruits of what what he has blessed us with. We are not our own but have been bought with a price and all that we have are blessings. We that have received the Gospel give thanks from our hearts and money from our purse so that others may know him as well.
Go. You may not be called to serve full time on a foreign mission field; then again you may. But at some level all of us go into the world. This sanctuary is a place of refuge, a shelter in which we meet together and meet God. Outside of those doors is the mission field. Acts 1:8: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Some will go to Haiti, or India, or China and others will go to Plainville, Scottsville, Calhoun and Rome. We will go to Walmart, Calhoun Primary School, into carpet mills and office complexes. We need to be conformed to the image of Christ when we met for church on Sunday morning and when we are stuck in traffic Monday afternoon. We must be instant in season and out of season; that means during Sunday School class and at Racetrac when we’re pumping gas.
We pray for our missionaries, those on the last frontier and those 54 schools in Georgia with BCM on campus. We give to North American Missions, International Missions and to Mission Georgia through Georgia Baptist Mission Board (I’m still trying that one on). We all go, even if it’s not far. Why? Because the need is great. The world is spiritually dark and a little bit of light goes on a long way.
Peace and God bless.