The Christian’ Missionaries

Sermon by Sanders Willson on March 6, 2011

Philippians 4:10-20

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The Lord’s Day Morning


March 6, 2011



“The Christian’s Missionaries”


Philippians 4:10-20


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.

© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.

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