The Lord's Day Morning
March 6, 2011
“The Christian's Missionaries”
The Reverend Mr. Sandy Willson
Jeremy, thank you, and thank you to this wonderful congregation. Ligon said a few moments ago that he knows that there's nowhere a pastor would rather be than with his own congregation, and I have to admit that's true, but this is a second home to me. And the few times I've been here you've always made me feel that way and I thank you for that good Presbyterian, Jackson, Mississippi hospitality. I'm the full beneficiary of it and I know your missionaries are too. We’re very grateful. And because of that you may have tricked me into thinking that we're closer than we actually are. I feel very close to you, and so if I'm getting in your grill today it's because I feel real close to you! And I feel that when I come to First Presbyterian I feel just the way I do at Second Presbyterian — I'm among brothers and sisters who really love the Lord and want to hear His Word and so if I get a little too pushy you just dismiss it and wait until next week and then someone who has earned that right will be preaching to you.
But it's a great thing to be here today on such a strategic moment in your church year. We all love Christmas Eve candlelight communion, we all love Easter Sunday morning, including myself, but I also love World Missions Sunday and Local Missions Sunday because it's a time for us to look at our relationship to Jesus Christ, to be sure that we really have given Him our hearts, our all, to see that we have responded to His call upon our lives. And that's really what it's all about. And out of the overflow of our love for Christ and our commitment to Him comes the propulsion of the Great Commission here in this city, this state, this country, and even to the other-most parts of the earth. Why do we have missionaries? Well, because of what the choir was just singing about. When we gathered, just a few of us in the Upper Room two thousand years ago, and even before that, Jesus said, “You must wait there in Jerusalem to receive power and when the Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power and you will be My witnesses right here in Jackson. You’ll also be My witnesses in Mississippi and you’ll be My witnesses to the United States. You’ll be My witnesses to the other-most parts of the earth.”
Here is the problem, here is the reason we need missionaries — because you live here; I live in Memphis. How am I supposed to go to the utter-most parts of the earth? I've got to do my job in Memphis. That's the reason we have missionaries. That's the reason we have Johnny and Larry and Barry and many others, because they are our means for obeying the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus called us to come to Himself, He also called us to make disciples of all the nations. That's in our calling, just as surely as when the apostle Paul was arrested on his way to Damascus by the Lord Jesus Christ and he was called to Christ personally, Christ immediately gave him his calling to go to the Gentiles. So Paul knew at his conversion that he was also to be an apostle. Well so you and I know at conversion that we're also to take the whole earth on as part of our calling. Jesus said, “Come follow Me and I’ll make you fishers of men. I’ll make you gatherers of people from all over the world when you come to Me.” So coming to Him involves engaging the world in the Christian mission and I can only do it in one place so I need partners all over the place. I need partners in Jackson. Ligon and I are dear friends and brothers and colleagues in ministry. I need him desperately because I can't come to Jackson; he can't come to Memphis. And we need our missionaries all over the world. And we must pick those places that we're going to specialize and we trust that the network of God's family around the world will pick up and take the other places as well and together we can minister to the world. That's the reason we have missionaries.
Now if we have missionaries, we also have obligations. And we’ll see it in the text today, in Philippians chapter 4. If you take your Bible and turn there, I'd like for us to see what Paul says to his missionary-supporting brothers and sisters back in Philippi. And there are tremendous lessons for us today and here's why we need them. I know that I'm “carrying coals to Newcastle,” as they say, I'm “preaching to the choir,” as they say, because Jackson, First Presbyterian has been a missions supporting church for a long, long time. Before I was born, this church was committed to international mission for which I'm deeply grateful, and Second Presbyterian Church the same way. But both Second Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church suffer a Presbyterian disease. It's the eighty/twenty disease or the twenty/eighty disease — twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the labor. I see it at Second Presbyterian Church and from what I can tell, from what Ligon said earlier this morning, I can see that you have it too. In fact, in the case of international mission, it looks like the twenty percent are not doing eighty percent of the work, they’re doing a hundred percent of the work. That's a deep disease in your church and mine and we must take at least one year to address it very, very seriously. I appreciate what Ligon has said, that his prayer is not just for more money for missions, although we pray for that, but his prayer is more people here at First Presbyterian.
Brothers and sisters, I didn't know Dr. Miller. He was before my time. I was not a Christian during those days, but I knew Dr. Don Patterson. I know Dr. Jim Baird. I know Dr. Ligon Duncan. And I know the kind of ministry and encouragement that you've had for, you know, fifty years. And I know the opportunity is here. And therefore it seems to me the Gospel obligation is upon us. We cannot be a diseased church. And so for those of us who are giving, we need to find ways to encourage those who are not participating and engaged. Those of you who are not engaged, I pray that today will be the day for you. The most important decision that you could make today is to engage with the Word of God and what God is calling us to do.
Now let's look at the text, Philippians chapter 4, and I think we’ll see the urgency of what's before us today from this text. And before we read it, let us look to the Lord and pray that He will be our true preacher today.
Lord Jesus Christ, You proclaim Your own kingdom, and for reasons that we still do not fully understand, You use sinful men like me to preach to Your precious people. And so I pray, confessing my need of You, O Lord, that You’ll speak way beyond anything I know or anything I've done, and You’ll speak for Yourself. Speak, O Lord, for Your servant's listening. Amen.
Philippians 4 verse 10. Hear the Word of God:
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.”
And all God's people said, “Amen.”
I have a Scottish background and I understand what it's like for Scots, many of whom attend Presbyterian churches, to have a sermon on money. It reminds me of the story of the three people who were having tea in London. There was an Englishman, there was a Southerner, and a Scotsman. And all of them were served their bowl of soup with a fly in it. And the Englishman had a simple solution. He just sent the whole place setting back and asked for a replacement. The Southerner found it very easy. He just flicked it out with his spoon and ate the soup. But the Scotsman picked up the fly by the wings and said, “Spit it out!” (laughter) So I understand fellow Scotsmen. Whenever the preacher talks about money, we batten down the hatches, we close up the pocketbook, and we cross our arms and say, “Prove it to me, buddy.” I know how it feels. I love my money too and I love the things that it brings. But when we talk about the Gospel, it involves our finances, the things that we steward, the things that we manage. We say that we own them. It involves all of those things and I think you can see from the text why.
The apostle Paul is an excellent missionary. I suppose he's the greatest who's ever lived except for Christ Himself, and he happens to be the missionary of a very proud and grateful church — the church of Philippi in the region of Macedonia. And this church loved their missionary and they had been deeply affected by the Gospel, so much so that you can see what Paul says about them. “You and you alone have financed and prayed for and encouraged my ministry all over the world, not just in Philippi like all the churches, but you've encouraged my international ministry and have sent me on. You’re an extraordinary bunch.” And it seems to me it was probably his favorite church. And this letter is written for a couple of reasons. For one, he's encouraging them to stand together with no divisions in their church so that they can contend as one man for the Gospel in Philippi because you can't contend for the Gospel if there's racism or elitism or genderism or any other kind of “ism” if we're not together in reconciling our differences and standing as one body before the community. And was one thing the Philippians had to deal with.
But I believe the primary reason he wrote this letter was because the Philippians loved their missionary so much that even in a day when travel was very dangerous and very difficult, they sent one of their leaders, Epaphroditus, on a mission. And we don't know whether it was by sea or by foot, but probably likely by foot — 600 mile round trip — to take supplies to Paul because their missionary had been put into prison in Rome. And unlike the prisons today, you don't get three squares each day. You don't have any food at all unless your friends and family bring you food every day. And the Philippians were deeply grieved. They were sharing the burdens of their missionary, and so they sent Epaphroditus on a short-term mission trip to Rome to take care of Paul and it nearly killed him as you can see in chapter 2, literally. In fact, the Philippians were so concerned for their short-term missionary that Paul sent him back so that they wouldn't worry any more.
But in the midst of that dear and precious and gracious gift, Paul just wells up in this final chapter, this closure of this sweet letter to the people he loves, and look how he speaks of their gift. I want us to see something about missionary giving that perhaps we haven't noticed before. If you’ll look in verses 10 through 16, first of all, you’ll see how precious your missions giving is to the missionaries themselves. Verses 10 through 16, if you’ll look in verse 10 he says, “You have shown your concern for me; you revived your concern for me.” So when we give to Johnny Long who became a missionary right here in these pews under the sound of the Word of God in this church and has been serving for years out of this church, and you continue to support him and you give to Faith Missions, this is precious to Johnny and Becky. You’re showing your concern for them. Now you may say, “Well I've been well-intended for years. I just haven't gotten around to it.” Look what Paul says here of the Philippians. He says, “I know I had good intentions from you, but you never had an opportunity. But now with Epaphroditus making this trip, you all had an opportunity to give for my relief and it's very precious to me. Thank you for demonstrating, for showing your concern for me, your missionary.” Now I’ll guarantee you that Larry and Barry and all the rest of them feel exactly the same way about this church. Ladies and gentlemen, you must give to international missions in order to demonstrate, to show - and don't just have good intentions because we know where good intentions can lead - but you not only have good intentions but you are concerned and you’re demonstrating it.
Paul says here, you would have done it before but you didn't have an opportunity. Could the same be said about First Presbyterian in Jackson or Second Presbyterian in Memphis? Listen, I know our world missions program very well and I've gotten to know yours fairly well. This missions program is an exquisitely focused missions program on advancing the Gospel through evangelism and church planting and theological training, here in this country and around the world. And I feel free to say to you, as one who's been in many, many churches, I don't know a program that's any better in the world for you to show your concern. Now some of you may have had trouble with authority figures or you may have been abused by churches in the past; you may find yourself not trusting people very easily. Let me tell you, I don't trust them easily either, but here you have people of integrity who oversee the missionaries and oversee every penny that's given. There's not a better opportunity. If you’re concerned for the mission of Christ around the world, there's one simple answer — you will be engaged in Faith Promise giving at First Presbyterian Church if you’re a member here. It's just that simple. You have the opportunity. Please do it, because it's precious to the missionaries.
Notice that Paul says, “You showed concern for me,” but if you’ll look in verses 11 through13 you’ll see an important caveat. Paul says, “Now look, I don't have to have your gift to be content.” And if you have mature missionaries, they don't have to have your gift. If you don't support them — Paul made tents when he in immature churches that didn't support him. The Philippians were more mature so he could live off the gifts. And so if we're immature, our missionaries will find a way to make some money. Please don't tell the people at Second Presbyterian that I would preach if they didn't pay me! And your missionaries are the same way. So they’re content; they don't have to have the gift. And they make it very clear because your missionaries — just like me, I'm a missionary in Memphis, and when I come among you I speak the truth and try to speak it in love, your missionaries will do the same thing. Maybe you get offended or maybe you don't agree with them. Well they’re saying, “It doesn't matter; I'm already content. I don't have to have your financial support, but what I must have is Christ.” “And I have Him,” says the apostle. “And because I have Him, I am content.” And the word for content just means self-sufficient because “Christ is in me. I have everything. I'm self-sufficient because Christ is in myself. But now I want to say to you,” says the apostle, “not because I have to have your gift, because I don't have to eat and I don't have to live. I just have to have Him. But you've been concerned that I eat and that I live and I want you to know that I appreciate it.” So it's precious to the missionaries because we show our concern.
But if you’ll look at verse 15 you’ll see that also we share in partnership in their ministry and we share in the trouble that they’re enduring. Ladies and gentlemen, what the apostle is saying is that, “I'm suffering for the Gospel here in chains and because of the gifts that you heroically brought me through Epaphroditus, the generous gift, the sufferings that I'm enduring, you’re sharing these with me.” You says, “How can I be a martyr? How can I show my love for Christ?” You deprive yourselves of a few Starbucks’ lattes and you support missionaries around the world and you’re sharing in their suffering.
The first missionary who ever stayed in our house was shortly after our conversion. I grew up a Southern Baptist in the south and didn't get converted. You know every once in a while we slip out of there and you know it doesn't take. So I go to New England of all places, I'm living in Boston, and there must not be more than two or three evangelical Presbyterian churches in the entire place back in those days and I happen to trip into one and I get converted! And that church happened to have a Missions Conference just like this one and they needed a place for Dr. John Wilson from Uganda to stay. He's an evangelist with African Enterprise. And so I have a family — at that time — I have five children now but I had two at that time — and I had two bedrooms and one bath. Why they put John Wilson in my house, I have no idea, but my life has been forever blessed because of it. And I can remember this tall, handsome, Ugandan evangelist telling us about the East African revivals. We’re new Christians, just taking it all in, and our hearts are knit together.
And seven years later when he was martyred by thugs in Uganda for his evangelism ministry our hearts were just crushed. We were broken because of it because we were sharing his sufferings. And yet I’ll tell you what that did — it just compelled even more to be involved in ministry in Africa and around the world because our dear friend, our apostle as it were, John Wilson, had been slain. Someone must rise up and take his place. And what you find when you’re sharing in the sufferings and you share in the strategy, you share in prayer, you share in giving, that your heart becomes African and Asian and it becomes Middle Eastern as well as American. But isn't that the heart of Jesus Christ? And so dear friends, the apostle first of all says thank you because your giving is precious to the missionaries.
But notice secondly in verse 17 it's not only precious to the missionaries but it's profitable to the giver, profitable to the giver. Look at how the text puts it in verse 17 — “Not that I seek the gift,” the apostle Paul says. “I'm not trying to manipulate dollars out of you for our own advantage. I know some of these super-apostles, these health and wealth people, they do that.” Paul says, “I'm not one of those. I'm not seeking this for my own gain.” But look what he said. This is a remarkable statement for a man who's deprived in prison and needs food and water. Look what he rejoices in. “I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” Now look at the footnote in the ESV and you see down there at the bottom under number four in the footnote — Or, “I seek the profit that accrues to your account.” Here's what the apostle is saying as a missionary who's in physical deprivation. He says, “As good as that gift is for me and how encouraging it is for me, I'm most of all encouraged for what it's doing to you. It's profit accruing to your account. It's an investment you’re making that is different from any other investment.” Every investment I make with my 401K or whatever — one day it's going to go to my children and then it's going to go to their children and then it's just going to peter out and be gone all together. But when I make an investment in international evangelization and church planting and theological training, I am investing in eternity. It will come; it will accrue to my profit on my account.
Now you say, “This doesn't sound very reformed. I thought that Jesus died for us and He paid for all of our sins.” He did indeed. There's not one thing including a Faith Promise pledge that you can add to your record that admits you into heaven itself. Praise the Lord for that because I could never pay enough to have any credit that makes me worthy or deserving of entering heaven. But what is the apostle saying here? He's speaking about some sort of profit or gain that we get out of it. And we know from other places in the Scriptures that there are, shall we say, rewards. I don't know about how all of this works, but someone has described it this way. It seems as though this would be the proper analogy — that as you serve the Lord, your capacity to enjoy Him grows — we've already mentioned that. When people get to heaven, every cup will be one hundred percent full, satisfied, overflowing, can't hold any more in, but some perhaps will be able to hold more than others. Ligon, if that is heresy, I trust that you’ll handle that next week! (laughter) But it seems that way to me because everyone is satisfied and yet there are rewards. There are jewels in the crown so to speak. Now there is no way that you and I deserve these rewards. They’re all graciously given, but they are given because of your heart for the Lord. Let me give you an example.
When my six foot six basketball coach son was just four years old and just a little squat, I was out raking the leaves and for me that always means it's late winter. I was out raking the leaves and had them all in nice piles except for one pile that hadn't been completed. And my son comes out on a cold winter day and he had his gloves on, his mittens, and he has his hat. His mom had all fixed him up in his big car coat and he has a rake that goes way over his head. And he says, “Daddy, can I help?” I said, “Sure, David, it's great to have you. Come on over here and help me.” Well in the next ten minutes he proceeds to spread all my leaves everywhere. You know, he didn't help me with the pile that was incomplete, he helped me with the piles that were complete and he spread them all over the place! So he didn't really help me that much. And after about ten minutes it was cold and his nose started to run, his hands started to — “Daddy, I want to go in!” “Well David, that will be fine. Just go right on in there and mom will fix you some hot chocolate and you’ll be fine and good to go.” And he started to walk off and then he turned around and he stuck his hand out and he said, “Could I have a quarter?” (laughter) Now folks, I thought about this. I could have said, “Now David, you don't even know what you did to my leaves? You scattered them all over the yard! You want a quarter for that?!” That's not what I said. It was ridiculous for him to ask me for a quarter and it was even more ridiculous that I paid him fifty cents! (laughter) Why? Did I pay him because he did such a fabulous job, a well-earned fifty cents? No. You know why I paid him. The boy loved his daddy and he came out to help him with his business and I love that, and so does the Lord.
And you and I — I think about what I'm doing in Memphis. I have all these strategies and our people give money and we've got people flying around all over the place doing things around the world and I'm thinking some days, you know, I think we're just scattering leaves. But I know that the Lord loves it, and I know that when I look out over this congregation and out over my congregation, I'm looking at people who are going to be richly rewarded. And I want you to know that one of the reasons I so long for the return of Jesus Christ, is I want to see what's going to happen to you. I want to see what it means here that profit has accrued to your account. I just want to see that with my own eyes. If someone owns the entire universe and He loves you and He wants to pay you fifty cents in deity terms, what would that look like? My mind just can't behold it, and I long to see the church glorified before the Father who has said, “Here's the profit that's accrued to your account.” And I'm telling you, you've made it. I hope you don't feel manipulated. Look, I don't have anything to offer but the Bible. And here's what Paul is saying about a Faith Promise gift. He's saying, “I take great joy and I seek it for you. I try to raise these funds among you because I want you to have the profit that accrues to your account.”
Now thirdly, we can't leave this text without seeing the glory of it all. Not only are these gifts precious to the missionaries and profitable for us, but most importantly they’re pleasing to the Lord. Look at how the apostle puts this in verses 18 through 20. He says, “I've received full payment and more, I'm well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.” Now look at how he describes those gifts — “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” Pleasing to God. You know sometimes I think that we Presbyterians think that, you know, for a Presbyterian to go to church that's a pretty good thing; for a Presbyterian to put something in the offering plate that's a pretty good thing; now if you go to Sunday School…oooo! Extra points! Generally in our minds what we're thinking is, “You know the fact that I just kind of clean up and show up, I mean, God's happy with that.” Well if you examine the Bible you’ll find many times when He wasn't so happy and He even said on one occasion, “You all shut the doors and lock them and don't let anybody in because I'm disgusted with the worship.” That was in Malachi in case you’re looking. So things are not immediately acceptable and automatically pleasing to the Lord.
I was reminded of this when I was a relatively new Christian and our minister had three children, the youngest of which was a Down Syndrome son, Eugene. Eugene was about eight years old and one thing Eugene loved to do in the evening service was to take up the collection with Bill McKenzie, the deacon, the head deacon. So at the time of the offering, Roger Quam, the minister, would call down, “Bill and Eugene,” and they would come down. And Eugene would always wear one of his father's vests so that he could be like the preacher. And he wore Roger's red vest and it went down to his ankles and that was his garb for collecting the offering. And Eugene always went up this aisle in the evening service. Now the evening service wasn't as crowded as this is, it was a little bit scattered, but Ed and Mary Tinney sat right about where you’re sitting madam and that was there seat. They were pillar and pillaress in the church! They were very generous people. I'm sure they had given in the morning, extravagantly because they did everything in the church. But when Eugene came to Ed and Mary there was no one else on the row, they had obviously given in the morning, and they handed the plate back to Eugene. Eugene looked at him. There was nothing in there. He handed it back and pointed to the plate, and you've never seen two seventy-five year olds move faster in your life! You know, they reached around to their pocketbook and their back pocket in their coat putting bobby pins or anything they could in the offering plate to get Eugene off their back! (laughter) But of course that broke the congregation. I have no idea what Roger preached on that night. It didn't matter! We all remember Ed and Mary got caught empty handed on a Sunday night!
And you know what? God often uses our Down Syndrome children. Later it occurred to me, “I think that was Jesus!” I think Jesus was saying it to all of us. You know, there are moments when I just want to pass the plate right back to you and just kind of go like this and say — Are you serious? After all I've done for you! Can you be serious with that gift? Is that really your response to the Gospel? It's left an indelible impression on my mind. Things are not automatically pleasing to the Lord, but look at this. This we are told is a sweet smelling aroma. You pick that up in Genesis and Leviticus. The people would offer their animal sacrifices and smoke would go up and it would be as a sweet smelling savor in the nostrils of God. And the preeminent text of course is in Ephesians 5:2 where we're told that the sacrifice of Christ is a sweet aroma.
Now ladies and gentlemen, get a load of this - that when you contribute to international missions, it's though an aroma is going up before the throne of God and He's taking pleasure in it. I mean how many times, those of you who have been Christians for a while, how many times have we said, “If I just knew how I could say thank you, if I just knew how I could live my life in a way that would show Him how much He means to me?” Ladies and gentlemen, here it is — a sweet smelling sacrifice to Him, an aroma that He actually loves. And this is the chief reason we commit ourselves, not a few of us, but every one of us, everyone who knows His name. If you’re six years old don't think I'm talking about somebody else; I'm talking about you. If you’re a widow with two mites, I'm not talking about somebody else; I'm talking about you. If you went bankrupt last year, I'm not talking about somebody else; I'm talking about you because remember the pleasure of the Lord has nothing to do with dollars and cents. It has to do with whether your heart is in it. That's what He wants. That's what pleases Him just as my son, David pleased me.
Now notice why this is so important to the apostle. If you look at verse 20 you get it. Not only out of the overflow of His pleasure will He take up, verse 19, all of your concerns. Don't you worry about giving up something for Him and being bereft and in deficit. “He’ll supply all your needs according to the riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” But look at verse 20. Here's the chief reason for Paul. It is that God, his Father, is getting glory in His church. That is what fuels the apostle and fuels the church more than anything else. Our Father is being honored and there is nothing greater in all — this is the summum bonum for human existence — that somehow our lives would glorify our Creator and Redeemer.
You know, fifteen years ago my dad died of cancer and I was with him when he died. But the next to the last day when he could still talk he gave me words I’ll never forget. I don't have time to share them with you, but what I want to share with you is that, you know, growing up — Ligon, his mother is from the same town where I grew up. We have this Athens, Tennessee connection. Growing up in Athens, my dad was — he ran a business — and as far as that was concerned, dad was just like all the other dads - he ran his business and that was it. But you know, you've probably had this happen to you. You know when your father died and his name ends up on the front page as a headline and it says, “Major Industrialist in McMinn County Dies,” I go, “Well, I'd never thought of him that way.” But I thought, “You know, look at my dad. My dad gave me a name — Willson with two “ls.” My dad gave me something nobody else could give me — he gave me a good name. And I’ll promise you it's one of my life's desires not to corrupt that name in handing it down to my children. And some of you didn't have a good name and now you’re in the business of redeeming that name and handing it down to your children who will have a good name for you. And I'm deeply grateful for this.
But ladies and gentlemen, you know I think it can be compared to the name of my real Father, my eternal Father in heaven. And when I read the Bible, He never dies. He always lives. But His reputation has been established on the earth and in the heavens and for all eternity. He is the One who made something out of nothing, and it was not only something, but it is beautiful. And when we rebel against Him, our Father is so gracious and so kind that He sent His only deserving Child, the only Son He had, to come and die on a cruel cross to rescue us from perdition. This is our Father! This is the story of Him! Here is He and we now have been given the name Christian, little Christs, sons and daughters of the living God! And it is our life's ambition to protect that name and to expand it and to cause it to be proclaimed all over the world because of the greatness of our Father who has been so kind to us. And that's what World Missions Sunday and world missions giving and praying is all about. It is to the glory of God our Father, now and forevermore. And may it ever be that First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi continues to hold up the banner of taking the Gospel here and around the world because it's precious to the missionaries because we know it's profitable for all who join us, and most of all it is truly pleasing to the Lord.
Let us pray.
Father, for the great privilege of offering a sacrifice that You will receive, we praise You and thank You. We ask that You would help us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, that You’ll help us to sing the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs as sacrifices of praise, and that You will enable us to take every dollar that's put under our management to glorify You, to praise You around the world, emptying ourselves of our own self-centered pleasure-seeking will, and asking O Lord that You would reorient us to the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ, here and around the world. Thank You for my brothers and sisters here today, for the fellowship that we enjoy in Your Word, please bless them. Please make profitable to them the Gospel ministry that they promulgate around the world. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
(Jeremy Smith) Our first response to God's Word is to sing. Let's take our hymnals in hand and turn to hymn number 444. We’ll sing the first and the final stanza, stanzas one and four of hymn number 444.
(Sandy Willson) Tonight we’ll be talking about the other leg of the stool. It's not just praying and it's not just giving, but it involves your physical lives, your transportation and your recreation — it's 100%. And we’ll be talking about how you can make a difference on these fields even with your personal participation. I encourage you to come, regardless of your station in life, and bring the young ones with you, because just as Johnny Long was called out of this church, you know what — this church will be blessed as a stream of young people go out on the mission here and around the world. For those of you who want to up your Faith Promise having studied the Word together or you want to participate having not done so before, please feel free to put them in the baskets or the plates as you leave. And for those of you who are willing to pray for our missionaries, which also is precious, will you please let Jeremy know? Just give him a note with your name and that you’re willing to pray for one of the missionaries. Thank you so much for your hospitality. It's a joy to worship with you and to look at these noble things together.
And now the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit descend upon you and dwell in your heart forever.
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