Written By Max Secor
The first century church grew fast, and it had many struggles and needs. The disciples often had no earthly resources to manage these needs and relied on the most powerful tool at disciples’ disposal—prayer.
“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.”
1 Thessalonians 3:1
Paul asks us to pray for three things. First, he asks us to pray for him and Timothy. In essence, we should be praying for missionaries. In Southern Connecticut we were blessed to know the Lamberts, and we were blessed to send them to Spain. That is amazing; let us remember to pray for them. Second, he asks us to pray that the message of the Gospel spreads quickly. The message of the Gospel should be known by everyone. It is fundamental to our faith that Christ died not only for the Jews but for all humanity, and all humanity needs to know the Gospel as soon as possible. Third, the Gospel does not just need to be spread, but it must be spread in a way such that it is accepted and honored by its hearers. This might seem obvious, but Paul has asked us to pray about it. We need to pray for our missionaries, pray for the quick spread of the Gospel, and pray that it is accepted by as many as possible.
Paul was a missionary in the first century and the amenities of life were meager. Regardless, there were missionary expenses, and Paul can be seen thanking the disciples for financial help in Phil 4:10-23.
I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
Paul, as a missionary, reiterates that he is not in need, but that their generous offering was pleasing to God. Specifically, in verse 18 he uses the very thought-provoking imagery of a fragrant offering. This imagery is an homage to the fragrant incense accompanied by sacrifices detailed in the Old Testament (Lev 4:7, Num 4:16, 2 Chron 2:4). As Christians, Jesus has done away with ritual sacrifices, but Paul tells us that our giving is an acceptable sacrifice and a fragrant offering to God. The Israelites would habitually sacrifice a tenth of all they had; as Christians we do not have such a mandate, but there is a parallel: a sacrifice being made to God through disciples giving generously from the fruits of their labor.
Finally, I would like to inspire everyone to consider how they might be able to make a physical impact in world missions by moving abroad.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This passage (Acts 1:8) is right as Jesus is leaving his disciples and ascending into heaven. They are some of His last words on Earth and they tell us that we will be witnesses to the end of the earth. The world must hear the Gospel and it is our responsibility to go out and preach. Not all of us will have the opportunity to leave our homes and go to where the church needs us most, but for some of us this is a decision worth considering. I want to encourage you to consider moving or living abroad (permanently or temporarily) for the sake of the mission. This is especially the case if you are free of debt, single with few long-term commitments, or an empty-nester. Disciples who speak foreign languages are particularly impactful to this end. I promise that any of us who go will make a huge difference and impact the lives of many.
Special Missions this year at a glance:
- We are collecting Special Missions this Sunday, Nov 22nd but you can give after that as well.
- We are asking each member to contribute $365 ($1 per day)
- This money goes to support the European Mission Society and the missionary work they are doing in Europe.
To learn more click here: https://sctcoc.org/websites/special-missions-contribution-2020/