Paul and Barnabas Were Ready. Are You?

In Acts 13 we read about how the church in Antioch sent out Paul and Barnabas to start their missionary travels. In the first three verses we see two men who were prepared to go when they got the call.

1. Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

In what way were these men ready for the call? They were ready by being spiritually mature surrendered servants who were teaching in the church.

Serving

Some people seem content to sit in church and let others serve them, but that is not the pattern we see from our Lord. He said that He came to be a minister, or servant, to others (Matthew 28:20). To prepare yourself for the call of God on your life, you should seek out ways in which you can serve your church family.

Maybe you’ve heard pastors make the statement that we should not be bench warmers in the church. Several years ago I was in an awkward meeting between a pastor and church member in Mexico. The church member complained to the pastor that he (the pastor) put too much emphasis on the idea of the church members getting involved in the ministry. The church member said that he wanted to come to church, sit in his pew with his family, and learn the Bible. He thought it was unreasonable for the pastor to ask anything more of him.

While we may not say those words out loud like this man did, are we guilty of living like we are content to be bench warmers in the church?

Teaching

Paul and Barnabas were teachers in the church. They probably held this position in an official capacity. You and I may not be given a Sunday school class to teach, but we have teaching opportunities around us. There are young people who look to us to be an example.

I had just arrived home from my freshman year in college when a friend from high school told me that he had always looked up to me as a good example. I wasn’t sure at the time that I wanted to accept the responsibility of having people following my example. But whether we like it or not, we are an example to those around us. What are we teaching?

Surrendered

These men were surrendered and ready to answer the call as soon as it came. They didn’t have to debate the topic. Paul and Barnabas didn’t have to “come back to the Lord” so that they could be used. They were ready and willing when the call of God arrived.

You’ve probably heard testimonies of how God called someone but they ran from the call. Thankfully, they eventually surrendered (otherwise you would not be hearing the testimony). And I am glad they did. But sometimes we tend to think that is what makes a good testimony. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can be surrendered and ready to serve the Lord as soon as He begins to move in our life.

Spiritual Maturity

Though these verses in Acts 13 don’t directly talk about the spiritual maturity of Barnabas and Paul, it does say that they were teachers in the ministry in Antioch. We know that Paul spent quite some time, even before his salvation, studying the Old Testament. Through his writings we see a man who knew what it was to pray, study and expound God’s Word.

Are you and I growing in our spiritual life? Sometimes we may say, “I’m doing much better today than I was 2 years ago.” That is great. But are you doing better today spiritually than you ever have? It is possible, especially for those of us who have been in church a long time, to be more spiritually hungry than we were last year, but yet still not desire the things of God as much today as we did 30 years ago.

How are you doing in these four areas? Are you ready to answer the call if God should lead you? You don’t have to know everywhere that God may take you in life. I’m sure Paul and Barnabas had no idea how the Lord would lead them. But, like them, we should be serving in our local church preparing for the day that call might come.

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None to Declare

In a time of great prosperity God spoke to Pharaoh through a dream. Even though God spoke, Pharaoh did not understand the meaning of the dream. Pharaoh stated this clearly, “I told this unto the magicians, but there was none that could declare it unto me.” He could not understand for two reasons. He could not understand because spiritual things are only discerned spiritually (1 Corinthians 2:14). Additionally, he could not understand because there was no one there that could declare it (Romans 10:14-15).

In all of the land of Egypt there was no one that could declare God’s truth to Pharaoh! This Pharaoh represents the three billion that have no one to declare unto them the Truth of God. They have no Bible, no church, and no missionary. These unreached peoples live in darkness, groping for meaning and purpose.

For Egypt, God had a plan. It was Joseph. There WAS one to declare! God had prepared Joseph for this day and for this people. Psalms 105: 17-19 says, “He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: until the time his word came: the word of the Lord tried him.” Ironically, this jailbird, this slave, this outcast, this abominable shepherd was God’s perfect choice to reveal His Word and His plan to Pharaoh and eventually to the world.

God has a plan to reach everyone in this world. The Lord is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I believe God prepares every believer to reach out to someone. How is God preparing you? Who will God place in your path today? Whether God leads you across the street to an unengaged neighbor, or whether he leads you 7,000 miles away to an unreached people group, BIO exists to help YOU fulfill the Great Commission. Contact us today and let us know how we can help you!

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Effective Missionary Church Planting Principles

General Washington and the Continental Army barely endured the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge. The bitter cold along with a serious lack of provisions and discipline almost accomplished what the British could not. General Washington’s leadership was impeccable, but he lacked the military genius of a career officer. In answer to Washington’s prayer, Benjamin Franklin recommended the services of Prussian Captain, Baron von Steuben. After von Steuben brought order and discipline to the camp he wrote a manual of drill techniques and instilled these techniques into the colonial farmers, turning them into a modern fighting force. There is a clear, practical application for church-planting missionaries in how von Steuben turned a rag-tag group of farmers into an elite fighting force. There are three fundamental keys to his success.

Selection

First, von Steuben realized that the weary colonialist would not immediately submit to a foreigner. America was fighting against tyranny; why would they then yield to a Prussian stranger? Von Steuben’s answer to this was to call out capable men from the rank and file in order to create an officer corps that could effectually command the enlisted man.

APPLICATION

An American missionary, particularly one who crosses geographical and cultural boundaries in order to plant churches, must realize that he is a foreigner, and not just any foreigner—an American foreigner. Often times this is a strike against a missionary and an obstacle that must be overcome. A wise missionary looks for capable nationals among his people so that he may develop them for spiritual leadership.

Duplication

Second, von Steuben, realizing the enormity of his task, duplicated himself. It would be impossible for him to train several thousand men in just a few weeks, but he could train a few. His brilliant plan began with turning the officer corps that he created into an elite fighting unit. Within weeks these special men were parading up and down the camp as a single unit to the awe of every regular soldier.

APPLICATION

When many missionaries arrive on the field hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, are in need of the Gospel. It is an overwhelming task. Paul understood this great need and the enormity of the task. That is why he wrote this to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” This leads to the third key to missionary success.

Delegation

Von Steuben assigned each officer to a regiment of men. His officers diligently instilled what they had learned into their men, creating hundreds of elite fighting units that could keep pace with and defeat the most powerful army in the world.

APPLICATION

Von Steuben’s approach was also the method of Paul as he instructed Titus in Titus 1:5, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.”

Without von Steuben’s guidance the Patriot cause would have failed. Major General von Steuben was promoted to Inspector General of the Continental Army. His methods were propagated throughout the Patriot forces through his book, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. Furthermore, his principles are still the foundation of our military today. Solomon said, “There is no new thing under the sun,” in Ecclesiastes 1:9. He is right; von Steuben’s principles are the effective missionary church planting principles that Paul used 2,000 years ago. They are still effective today.

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World Missions is the Reason for the Season

During the Christmas season we are frequently reminded that Jesus is the reason for the season. We could extrapolate this by saying that missions is the reason for the season. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given…” John 3:16 presents this gift to the world, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” That first Christmas God gave His Son “that the world through him might be saved.” Jesus was sent to save sinners; likewise, we are sent to save sinners through the preaching of the Gospel. Thus, since the proclaiming of God’s gift to the world is called missions, practically speaking, world missions is the reason for the Christmas season.

Since missions is the reason for Christmas, our celebration and gift giving should be directed towards and result in more people hearing the good news—God loves people and has given His Son for the reconciliation of the world. Here are some ways that this can be fun and effective.

The White Elephant Gift

The white elephant gift party is a fun gift exchange where everyone brings inexpensive or funny gifts. Numbers are drawn and gifts are taken or stolen in number order until all the gifts are gone. This gift exchange can be focused towards missions by requiring all gifts be something that is from another culture. This slight adjustment to a popular event can shift the focus of Christmas towards missions.

Picture of a snow-covered office building.Donate to a Missionary or Missions Ministry

Many churches and individuals give their first gift of the Christmas Season to God by donating to a missionary or missions ministry. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than by supporting those who are taking God’s gift to the world.

Send a Care Package to a Missionary

Care packages are popular with college students and military personnel. What about those missionaries who are away from home and family? Your gift could be what God uses to encourage them. Imagine feeling loneliness during the holidays only to find a package of heartfelt goodies from home. Many favorite foods and luxuries cannot be found overseas. This would be a special treat indeed! Make sure to do your homework. What are the missionaries’ likes and dislikes? What are they missing from home that they cannot obtain on the field? Check with the missionaries’ agency. It may not be wise to send a missionary a package in some restricted access nations.

Throw an International Christmas Party

My family will never forget the Vietnamese Christmas party we had in Samoa. Decorate, and prepare special food from a country where your missionary serves. During the party play an appropriate international game and then Skype your missionary and love on them for a while. Not only would you encourage the missionary, but your family and friends will be redirected to the reason for the season—missions!

Decorate a Christmas Tree with International Ornaments

Christmas trees are not only beautiful; they are also very sentimental. Each ornament can hold memories that represent relationships past and present. Set up a tree in your home, church or Sunday school class and decorate it with ornaments from around the world. Some of these ornaments could have been bought during short-term mission trips or, perhaps, brought by your missionaries when they visited your church. These ornaments could serve as a reminder of the real reason for the Christmas season; later, perhaps, they could be auctioned and sold with the proceeds going towards your favorite missionary or mission project.

Let’s remember, rejoice and revel this Christmas season, but let’s not forget the reason for this wonderful season—“the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Missions is the reason for the season!

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Messages From the 2017 November Meeting

We had a wonderful BIO Conference on World Evangelism and Church Planting in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dr. Milton Ker was presented with the Faithful Man Award by Baptist International Outreach. Dr. Ker preached alongside Missionary Tim Carte and Pastor Steve Craft.

You can listen to the messages below or right click the message title to download the sermons.

The 2018 November Meeting will be hosted by Rock Springs Baptist Church in Morrow, Georgia.

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