Mission work was on Jesus’ mind as He bid farewell to His disciples. Mission work was the apostle Paul’s overwhelming passion and the only thing that kept him conflicted about the prospect of going to heaven as soon as possible. Mission work built the church as we know it today and helped Christianity survive the persecution of the Roman Empire.
The thread of mission work runs throughout Scripture. You can find prominent examples of it in the following passages.
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8).
Mission work, at its core, is an opportunity. Specifically, it’s an opportunity for believers to play key roles in God’s plan. Mission work is a front-row seat to God’s life-changing power. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah certainly recognized the potential in being sent by God. His excited reply reveals his eagerness.
Isaiah also likely recognized the challenges and hardships of mission work. He knew that his message—that is, the message God gave him to deliver—would not be popular. He also likely knew of the human tendency to want to “kill the messenger.” Yet Isaiah was not deterred, because the one thing he understood better than anything else is that the blessings of serving God through mission work far outweigh the drawbacks.
The voice of the Lord calls to His people in a similar way today. The Holy Spirit makes us aware of opportunities to serve. Sometimes those opportunities are local; sometimes they’re anything but. Either way, He asks, on behalf of the heavenly Father, “Whom shall I send?” Those of us who have the courage, faith, and sense of adventure to say, “Here am I! Send me!” will discover what it means to be used by God in a powerful way.
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’” (Mark 16:15–16).
Jesus lays out for His followers the dire situation facing the unsaved. Their eternal lives hang in the balance. Believers who engage in mission work, then, may be compared to spiritual “first responders.” We run toward the crisis when others turn away or try to ignore it. We may not always be comfortable in the situations we face, but we refuse to back away from them.
A willingness to serve is the only thing the Lord requires of us. He doesn’t expect us to be experts in mission work, Christian ministry, or theology. The Holy Spirit will help us diagnose people’s spiritual needs so that we can figure out the best way to respond to them. If we “go into all the world”—or even into just our corner of it—He will go with us.
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
The apostle Paul underscores the dilemma that many lost people face. They are unable to make an informed decision about Jesus because they know so little about Him. Many are unfamiliar with Scripture. What they do know about Jesus comes from second-hand sources, which are often tainted by cynicism, self-interest, and misinformation. Some people, who have been burned by Christian hypocrisy (or worse), put up defense mechanisms to protect themselves from further harm.
Still, the need remains. To paraphrase Paul’s second question, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have heard misleading things?” That brings us to his third question. The word that tends to trip us up there is “preacher.” Few of us think of ourselves as preachers. Yet, from the context of the verse, it’s clear that Paul is simply referring to someone who is willing to talk to others about Jesus.
Our “talk” can take many different forms. The manner in which we live—the priorities we set, the way we treat others, the joy we express, the fellowship we enjoy with other believers, the concern we demonstrate for people in need—can speak volumes about the Lord we serve. And when people grow curious enough to question us about the way we live, we have the opportunity to follow the apostle Peter’s lead and “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15). That’s how we can be involved in mission work anytime and anywhere.
James, in his epistle, says, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:17). His stark warning is spiritual food for thought. Yet it also raises this question: What does faith look like if it does have works? For the answer, we turn to three well-known Bible stories.
The Lord approached Abram with an offer that was equally unsettling (literally so) and tantalizing. Walk away from everything you’ve built for yourself, He instructed Abram. Step away—a long way—from the place where you feel safe and comfortable. Embark on a journey into an unfamiliar and hostile land toward a destination you know nothing about. Trust first in the fact that I can be depended upon to fulfill My promise. Trust second in the fact that I can protect you and provide for you along the way. Trust third in the fact that what I offer is better than what you have now.
Abram departed immediately. He didn’t know what lay ahead. He didn’t have all his questions answered. He may not have been entirely comfortable with what he was doing. But he sensed that God could be trusted, that God knew more than he did, and that God had something extraordinary in the works. That was all Abram needed to give up everything.
There was no gray area in King Nebuchadnezzar’s decree. He erected a giant gold image of himself. Anyone in his kingdom who did not bow down to it would be burned to death in a furnace. When the time came, everyone in the kingdom bowed down—except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
Faced with the prospect of being thrown into a furnace, the trio delivered a stirring testimony to God’s power—and to the priorities that guided them. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16–18).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego understood God’s power. They knew He was able to deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. What they didn’t know was His specific plan for them in that moment. So they added a caveat: “But if not.” And in those three words, we find the essence of faith.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego remained faithful to God, not because of what He would do for them in return, but because they trusted in His plan—no matter what it meant for them. They placed their complete faith in Him.
Peter, like his fellow disciples, felt overwhelmed by his circumstances—until he was able to recognize Jesus in the midst of them. Suddenly, the darkness no longer intimidated him. The rough conditions no longer made him uneasy. The unknown no longer frightened him.
Peter stepped out of the boat because he saw no good reason not to. Peter wanted to be where Jesus was; Jesus was on the water. Nothing else mattered. By focusing his attention on the Lord, Peter was able to do something extraordinary. The moment he shifted his focus back to his circumstances, he became ordinary again. Faith gave him his courage and kept him buoyant.
The question we must ask ourselves is this: What does faith with works look like in our lives? Thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, it bears a strong resemblance to the faith at work in Abram, in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and in Peter.
The Holy Spirit nudges us out of our comfort zone. He bolsters our adventurous spirit so that we can venture into places—physically and relationally—where we’re less than comfortable. He works through our unease to help us strengthen our faith and experience the joy of obedience. He makes the journeys we take by faith well worth our effort.
The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to stand firm when all eyes are on us. He gives us the voice to speak up when God’s Word is being questioned. He gives us the boldness to face the fire, even when there’s a risk of our getting burned. He gives us discernment to recognize God’s will in tense or unnerving situations. He also gives us the wisdom to understand that obeying His will, regardless of the consequences to us, is always our best course of action.
The Holy Spirit gives us the opportunity to step out in faith as the storms of life rage around us. He gives us the opportunity to imitate Christ in a way that draws people’s attention to Him. We may not have the opportunity to step out of a literal boat, but we can sacrifice something important to us for the sake of someone else. We can turn the other cheek when people mistreat us. We can do good things for our enemies. In other words, we can make a difference in people’s lives, as Jesus did.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month and what better way to show your pastor some love than by bringing in a fellow laborer—a colleague, a veteran, a friend—who can walk with them through incisive Bible study. These Bibles, shepherded by some of the country’s most trusted pastors, offer unique perspectives into the precious Word of God.
The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible is designed to lead believers into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, and to help them experience the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love. It’s designed around 30 “Life Principles” Dr. Stanley has gleaned from Scripture during his teaching and pastoral ministry. A wonderful Bible that will encourage and strengthen your pastor in their personal time in God’s Word.
Meet Charles Stanley:
“Watch this . . . .” Whenever you hear Dr. Charles Stanley deliver this two-word caution, he’s about to show you yet another gem in God’s Word that warrants your special attention. This beloved pastor has been similarly drawing people into the depths of Scripture for more than six decades of ministry, most notably during his long tenure as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, but also as the best-selling author of numerous books.
Over 2 million readers around the world have been enriched and their understanding of God’s Word expanded through The MacArthur Study Bible. With a singular goal of making God known through His Word, this Bible helps readers grasp the sweep of history from creation to consummation. Beautiful and uncompromising, this translation is one your pastor will turn to time and again for serious study, devotional use, and reading aloud.
Meet John MacArthur:
In more than five decades of ministry in the pulpit at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, Dr. John MacArthur has always emphasized the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage. He has also written hundreds of study guides and books, including The MacArthur New Testament Commentary.
Every pastor is a person of influence. But how can he or she best use that awesome responsibility to glorify God? The Maxwell Leadership Bible will equip and encourage pastors to meet 21st-century challenges with timeless principles of dynamic leadership gleaned from God’s own Word. Here are time-tested and irrefutable biblical lessons gleaned from decades of study to strengthen and enlighten your pastor and draw out the godly leader within.
Meet John Maxwell:
“If you want to learn leadership, go to the greatest book on leadership ever written—the Bible.” And with that directive, internationally recognized leadership expert and pastor John C. Maxwell has trained over five million leaders to reach their potential in Christ. Having sold over 19 million leadership books (including three titles that are million-copy-sellers alone), Dr. Maxwell is well-equipped to help your pastor become a transformational leader—someone who helps people change their lives from the inside out.
Culled over a lifetime of Warren Wiersbe’s powerful and inspired teaching and preaching, The Wiersbe Study Bible offers trustworthy, accessible explanations of the Bible’s truths and promises through a comprehensive system of study and application notes. Using this Bible, your pastor will, in essence, “pull up a chair” beside this spiritual giant and learn to appreciate the Word, appropriate the Word, and apply the Word.
Meet Warren Wiersbe:
Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe was an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of three churches including the historic Moody Church in Chicago. The beloved author of more than 170 books, he is well-known for his BE Series of expositional Bible studies—a staple in many pastors’ libraries.
As your pastor travels with Jerry Vines on a journey through the Bible, he or she will gain understanding and observations straight from this seasoned pastor’s heart. Based on sermons from his lifetime of ministry, The Vines Expository Bible provides a distinctive, passage-by-passage guide through every book of Scripture and shows how God’s revelation applies to our lives today.
Meet Jerry Vines:
The long-time pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida, one of America’s largest churches, Jerry Vines now “pastors pastors” through Jerry Vines Ministries—an outreach to further educate men and women in different areas of the ministry. He is also a prolific author.
You can find all of these Bibles, along with other great gifts to show your pastor how much you appreciate the hard work they do, by clicking here!
October’s Pastor Appreciation emphasis in many churches is a good reminder to pray for our servant-leaders during the month, of course. But these godly men and women stand in need of prayer every single day. Use these prayers as a starting point in your prayer time this month but let them also help you develop a lifelong pattern of lifting your pastor to the Lord.
Numbers 6:24-26—“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Thank you for sending our pastor to shepherd the church. I’m grateful for the love you put in the pastor’s heart for You and Your people. I appreciate the unique set of gifts and talents that enrich the pastor’s ministry and bless our church. Would You, in turn, bless the pastor today? Help the pastor to sense Your presence in such a sweet way. Fill the pastor up, Lord and use the pastor for Your glory today. And show me how I can support and encourage. Thanking You for this good leader, I pray this in Jesus’ name.
Joshua 1:9—“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
My pastor’s on the front line; an easy target for the enemy and his minions. My pastor’s preaching the Word faithfully from the platform each week as a community leader, and a completely sold out servant to You. Dear Holy Spirit, empower the pastor this day to boldly proclaim the truth of Your Word. Help the pastor not to grow weary in well-doing or to fall away but provide grace upon grace. I’m thanking You in advance for what You will do in and through our pastor this very day, in Jesus’ name.
Proverbs 3:5-6—“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Thank you for a pastor that seeks You with a whole heart. The pastor’s singular desire, Lord, is to serve and please You. So, Father, show the pastor the way. Give the pastor Your vision. Grant Your clarity. Make the complex simple. And then give the pastor boldness to step out in faith to accomplish Your plans for our ministry and for our church. It’s easy to be distracted by many voices, so Father let the pastor hear but one voice, and let that voice be Yours. These things I pray with hope and expectation, in Jesus’ name.
Galatians 6:9—“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Even though my pastor serves our church with what seems like boundless energy, no one is a superhuman; I know the pastor gets really weary. The demands on the body and spirit are nearly unending. Would You let my pastor find respite and relaxation from the day? Would You clear the mind, give a good sleep tonight, and refreshment for another day of kingdom service? Bless my pastor, oh Lord, for faithfulness and offer blessings with a new day to continue in faithfully service to You.
Matthew 6:33—“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
There will be hundreds of distractions in my pastor’s life today—fires to put out, unexpected twists and turns, and the noise and clutter of the world. I know that the deceiver will do anything he can to keep my pastor from study, prayer, and service. So, I lift my pastor up to You, dear Lord, asking You to help keep the main thing the main thing. Give “blinders” so that my pastor is keenly focused on You and on Your purpose for life and ministry this day. In Jesus’ name.
James 1:5-6—“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
I come to you today interceding for my pastor. I know there will be many important decisions that must be made, many words that must be chosen carefully, many needs that must be answered. It’s a day that the pastor can’t handle with only human abilities. The pastor needs Your wisdom and Your guidance. Only You know what today will bring, and only You know what the demands will be. Meet them, oh Lord, and give the pastor just what is needed, just when it’s needed. I’m thanking you, in Jesus’ name.
John 13: 34-35—“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Dear Holy Spirit,
Today I pray for the fruits of the spirit in my pastor’s life—that love, joy, peace, and patience will guide; that kindness and goodness will be companions; that faithfulness will be the motto, and that gentleness and self-control will be evident to all. Help the pastor to see each person today through Your eyes. And help them to see You in the pastor. I love you, Lord, and I thank you for my pastor, in Jesus’ name.