There’s not much said in the NT about church planting. Plenty is said about proclaiming the gospel. So how did people know how to gather together in community? Reckon the saints said something about the church in their message? Something like,

“God formed a people centered in his love. He brings the followers of Christ together. The new life is lived in community, nothing like you’ve ever seen before. His people are not Jews or pagans, it’s not philosophy or pleasure-seeking, but what we’ve all been looking for. God assembles them now as they wait for the Great Assembly in heaven when the Lord returns for them.”

Reckon? The kingdom message implies a chosen people. Contrary to some who want to leave the church out of their message.

A tweet affirmed that the goal of missions is to plant churches that plant other churches. I have no beef with the general idea. The gospel ought to spread to every place. But the wording doesn’t get much support from the NT. The church is a product of proclaiming the gospel. The emphasis is on the latter. The tweet puts forth a humanly based activity. It sets aside the activity of God. It probably reflects denominational bias. When the gospel is preached in its fullness and truth, God adds the converts to his church and they begin to meet together. Quite simple, is it not?

The flame of God’s service, from 2 Timothy 1.6, is the focus of today’s devotional by Ed M. The call must ever be heard. (“Ministry” in today’s religious language has been co-opted by professionals. We are all ministers, only some of us serve in different functions.) God calls all his people to serve his mission. The church is about souls. We must never lose sight of that. We must constantly fan the flames of this privilege of participating with God in the rescue of mankind. Whatever our drawbacks or disadvantages — and Timothy had plenty of them — we are not exempt. No woman or man can run from it and be faithful to the calling.

Focus question: What do I need to do to keep the fire of zeal hot for serving God?

Ed M. considers our calling, based on Isaiah 6.8:

God calls. The Lord is not dead. He has not retired. He is not silent. He actively invites us to enter His service, to deliver His message. When He calls, we should immediately jump to our feet and do what He says, Mark 10:49,50.

In 1984 I was explaining in a Bible class about how great was the need for workers in the world and how few we were sending. A brother asked, “What can we do? How can we reverse this situation?” I paused, looked at him, and said, “Send your children.” The silence was deafening.

Focus question: How am I reacting to God’s call today?

The experience of the prophet Jonah serves as a negative example to Christians, who ought to know that God is concerned about sinners and wants their repentance. In his devotional, Ed wrote,

He was disgusted with God. He quarreled with the Almighty. Rather than accept the repentance of pagans, he preferred to die, Jonah 4:3. If the prophet had made any spiritual progress, it was difficult to see.

Focus question: Do any of God’s attitudes disgust me? Do I measure spiritual progress in terms of helping others to come to God?

Friends know I’m not a fan of the word leadership. In spite that that, Ed’s full devotional thought for today merits close reading. It hits home.

Moses was a “servant,” Numbers 11:11; Joshua 1:2,7,13,15b; Hebrews 3:5. Every Church leader is a servant. Their job is to copy the Master. The burden of guiding belongs to God. The task of following belongs to man. The Lord commissions the work, II Corinthians 5:18,19. He also provides the competence to lead, II Corinthians 3:5. Still, we can be certain, the task will be challenging. Courage will be needed. Trials will come. Decisions must be made. Discipline will be necessary. And doubt will hover nearby in all situations.

Focus question: How to urge people to follow the Lord and obey the will of God without compulsion, force, or manipulation?

Today’s devotional comes from the heart of one who has God’s mission in the forefront. Here’s a small paragraph from the powerful page:

Converts are a refreshing joy, III John 4. The unexpected should be expected in the Christian life. Sinners repent. The afflicted find peace. The cold embers of past faith are rekindled. Moments of success are times of festive celebration.

Are many full-time workers frustrated because they’re not evangelizing, but instead speaking to people unmoved by the gospel?

Focus question: How can a Christian cultivate the great expectation of seeing people convert to Christ?

Maybe a lot of us are more like Saul than we’d like to admit:

The will of God. The king was charged with “arrogance” and “rebellion,” I Samuel 15:23. It was a very serious indictment. He turned the mission of God into the mission of Saul. In effect, he obeyed himself. Though Saul pled innocence, I Samuel 15:20, the facts made quick work of his sophistry, I Samuel 15:24. We, too, are invited to be part of the mission of God. Our call is clear. We are to “declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His wonderful light,” I Peter 2:9.

In today’s devotional for Jan. 6, the main text in 1 Sam 15 is apparently from the ESV, quite an interesting way to translate it.

Focus question: How to avoid turning God’s mission into one of our own? In what areas do we tend to distort or pervert God’s mission?

A quote by the great Russian writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, is going around: “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today.”

It is a striking feature in the Lord’s church as well. Society has influenced our people. In so many corners, we’ve becoming mealymouthed. We fear rejection and opposition.

Sensitivity is needed, yes, and love must be evident, but the words of life and justice and righteousness must be spoken. The gospel is not designed to make everyone everywhere feel good. Joel Osteen has cornered that market.

Jesus Christ offers eternal salvation to those who will repent; he sends his people into the world to be courageous and to speak that good word of change and transformation. Let the outside observer notice such a courage.