“HERE AM I. SEND ME!”
PART 3: “RISK TAKERS”
KNOW WHO YOU ARE: “ROUGH DIAMOND” OR “DIAMOND GEEZER”
When a diamond is dug out of the dirt it is dull and shapeless – not as pretty as the stones that lie around it. It needs to be recognised, cleaned, polished and cut before its true beauty and worth is realised.
We are just like this diamond. We are “rough diamonds” in the dirt. There is nothing to show our true value. But then God picks us up and, through Christ’s sacrifice, He cleans us off. He then polishes us in the experiences of life. And His Spirit and His Word cuts away all the rough edges. And then our true value before God is seen. And what a value we each have! We may have started as a “rough diamond” but we are being made into true “diamond geezers”!
It is when we realise our true value that we can then begin to ask “What can I do? What can I do to say thank you? What can I do to play my part in the Kingdom of God? What does God want me to do?” Well…it might begin with realising that in order to “just do it” we have to…
BE A “RISK TAKER”: LUKE 10: 1-20
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 ‘When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 ‘When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal those there who are ill and tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God has come near.” 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town…
16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.’
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’
18 He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
In our last session we saw Jesus sending the “12” out to the “lost tribes of Israel” and we were challenged to “just do it” without excuses, to “just do it” knowing that God is with us and will equip us to do the job.
Yes – but that was the “12” – they were the special ones, weren’t they? I’m no Peter or John.
Well, here we now see Jesus sending out the “72” – nameless disciples. Now, THAT is more like me and you! Again we see:
- The call to recognise that the land is full of people who need to know Jesus
- The need to recognise that it is going to be tough and that people might be “wolves”
- The promise of power and provision to be equipped to do the job
- The job to do – just to simply take the Good News of Jesus to everyone
But now we see something new…the “72” return bubbling with excitement: demons fled out of people wherever they went. And Jesus encourages them that He saw “Satan fall like lightening” out of heaven because of their work. He encourages them with the importance, the significance, of their service. Yet, He reminds them that their greatest joy should be in knowing that they are going to Heaven.
He called them to be “risk takers”. They rejoiced in the results of their risk taking. He described the effects of their risk taking.
If it is in the Bible then it should be in the church. He is calling YOU AND ME to be “risk takers”.
But we still cry out: “but what is it that You want me to do?”
“POLISH YOUR PEARL” IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
The Bible says:
“It is He who saved us and chose us for His holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was His holy plan” (2 Timothy 1: 9 LB)
You’re not saved BY service, but you are saved FOR service. So…let’s polish that pearl! And we do that by using it – by taking a risk and using it.
In some churches in China, they welcome new believers in by saying:
“Jesus now has a new pair of eyes to see with, new ears to listen with, new hands to help with, and a new heart to love others with.”
Let us look at what the Bible says about this. In Exodus 31: 1-11 we are told:
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘See I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills – 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent – 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand – 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.’
God did not choose to use only Moses and Aaron. In the building of the Tabernacle (symbolic of the church and our worship of God) others are mentioned – not many by name – “skilled workers” to build the tabernacle (church). Many others are alluded to as providing the gold and silver and gems that not only paid for and supported the work but which were directly used in the building and the garments to be worn by the priests. ALL had a part to play and without ALL playing their part the tabernacle would never have been built. The analogy with us today is clear.
The “2020 Vision” is still in place. All are called to open their eyes and see the fields that are white to harvest. All are called to be seeking, finding and using their God-given calling.
Let us call this our “pearl” – the wonderful gifting that God has given to us. And what better place to “polish” that “pearl” than in a safe environment – a place where we can try out, practice and hone the gifting that God has given us. And what safer place can there be than the church of which we are a part – a place, a family, where we can “learn the trade” that God has given to us.
So, be a “risk taker”. Volunteer to pray at the start of the service. Listen to the Spirit of God speaking to the church and have the courage to share what He is saying so that we are all built up. Serve in the leading of communion. Read your favourite passage from the Bible. Pray for the hurting person who is sitting next to you. Offer to lead a meeting during the week. Agree to sharing your thoughts on a Bible passage.
Church is a safe place when we can try our best and be applauded for the effort. Church is a safe place where we can stutter and stammer over a thought this week and know that we are valued and that we can do it again next week – and be a little better at it. Church is a safe place to get it right AND get it wrong without anyone tutting and condemning you for mistakes that you make. Church is a safe place where you can start up a ministry and see it either flourish or fail and no that you are going to be told “well done!” either way. Church is a safe place when you are encouraged constantly with “well done…go on…give it a go…try it again…that was really good!” rather than a place where we are discouraged with “that’s not your ministry…you made a lot of mistakes”.
Take a deep breath. Just do it! Start it today!
PURSUE YOUR PASSION
How do you KNOW the “pearl” that you should be “polishing”?
Paul in 1 Corinthians 3: 5-6 tells us:
“We are simply God’s servants…Each one of us does the work which the Lord gave him to do: I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow” (TEV)
God said to Jeremiah (and if it’s in the Bible then it’s for us):
“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work” (Jeremiah 1: 5 NCV)
Mike Breen in “A Passionate Life” writes: “God has buckets full of grace to pour out on us – but we have to be standing where the downpour is” (makes me think of “Singing in the Rain”!). He continues: “God does not expect you to be who you are not, but He does want you to be all that He made you to be”. God, the Great Designer, has made YOU to fit in a certain place, doing a certain job, where you can serve Him best – and where He can shower you with His grace.
Rick Warren of Saddleback church in California, USA, has developed an assessment tool that is based on the acrostic SHAPE. You might want to have a look at one of these – they are quite involved but will give you an insight into your given ministry that you might find helpful.
But the “bottom line” is that you will KNOW the pearl you should be polishing by
- Your passion – what really excites you? If you are really passionate about praying, then “just do it”.
- Your ability – what are you good at in any case? If you love poetry but in reality the best you can do (like me!) is “Roses are red, violets are blue; I’m no good at poetry and neither are you” then the likelihood is that this is not the “pearl” that you should be “polishing” but if you are simply a natural “Gordon blue” cook then maybe this is something you can really take a risk with.
- The wisdom of others around you – why not ask THEM – they very often see things in you that you are blissfully unaware of! When I was in school and at university my “mates” laughed when I spoke and said “You are SOOO going to be a teacher”. NO WAY!!!! The last thing I wanted to do was go back into school! And the rest is history…
And now it’s up to you…your choice…you can curl up on the settee in front of the TV of your life or you can get up, take some big risks, and declare “Here am I. Send me!”