Release

Pastor Tim Inman

01-25-15

 

Over this past month, our Sunday sermons have reviewed this church’s four purposes: Rescue, Recover, Rebuild, and Release. In addition to describing our church’s purpose, these words describe a natural progression in a believers’ life. You can probably remember my dad, pastor Terry describing a similar process in Jesus disciples’ lives. First he called them to ‘come and see’, then to ‘come follow’, later, to be his disciples, and finally to ‘come and die’. Today we discuss our fourth and final purpose - release: empowering people with their purpose: but don’t be mistaken: this step is not for expert-level christians. It’s for all of us.


In 2003, I was serving this church as Children’s pastor, and was literally released - to become a missionary in Ireland.

Recently, I was asked to give some advice to a new missionary. I didn’t hesitate, because although I am no expert, I did learn some hard earned lessons. Today we are going to make this a missionary training academy, since you are all missionaries, today I am going to release you with three bits of helpful advice, and they all start with the letter ‘A’.

 

1. Released with Authority

This ‘A’ word gives some context to what it means to be released into our purpose as Christians.

 

What if I asked, “how many disciples did Jesus have?” Most people say 12, thinking of Peter, James, John and the others, but actually its a trick question. Those twelve were among probably hundreds who considered themselves Jesus’ disciples. A disciple is a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. Jesus used a different word to distinguish those twelve whom he would send out. Here it is in Luke 6:12:

 

One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles... (Luke 6:12,13)

 

Apostle wasn’t a religious term for a leader. It was a term Jesus appropriated for them. In a general sense, the word apostle meant ‘sent one’, or ‘envoy’. Rome used to send armadas of ships to conquered lands. The ships carried with them lots of Roman goods. The Romans didn’t just want to rule these lands, they wanted to Romanize them, so the ships carried Roman culture with them. The lead ship in the armada was called, you guessed it: the Apostle. On the lead ship was a leader, an admiral who would represent Roman interests, he was also called an apostle.

 

What a cool word Jesus chose to describe these followers who he would send as His representatives to bring the culture of Heaven to Earth!

We are also Christ’s representatives! The Apostle Paul calls us Ambassadors “as though God were making his appeal through us...”

 

As his representatives we carry authority! I try to always pray with faith: faith that God is able to do what I ask that He has good intentions for us. There have been a handful of times, exciting times, when I felt as though my prayers were more God’s intentions coming through my mouth than my intentions directed his way. Once, when praying for a fellow student with ‘terminal cancer’ I knew she would receive healing. Another time praying over a piece of property, I felt the Lord was reminding me of the authority of my prayer almost like it was releasing His will.

 

Christians, we have been instructed to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. In a short while, we will be in the middle of 40 days of love and light. You will be asked to pray for 5 people in your life with intention. What will you do with this access and authority. What will you ask for on their behalf?

 

2.Released with an Attitude! (Humility)

This is what Jesus had to say about some missionaries of his day:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”

It’s not enough to have the right motive. It’s not enough to work hard or sacrifice. We must have the right attitude.

And what attitude should we carry as Christ’s representatives?
We don’t have to wonder, its plainly stated in scripture. Let’s look at 1 Peter 3.

 

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (8,9) (skipping to verse 15)


“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (15-17)

 

Humility is easy to talk about but none of us likes to be caught in the situations where it’s needed most. I don’t know if you noticed it but in those verses, the context for being humble and answering with gentleness and respect was when you are unjustly accused and suffer for doing good. This passage of scripture may be useful for us as Christians to meditate on as we seem to be entering a season of being accused in the media.

 

Before leaving for Ireland, our family needed to raise financial support. We visited churches all around California - literally hundreds of services. Most of the time, we were treated with great honor. People were very kind and encouraging. We met lots of pastors and leaders and were treated with respect and honor.

 

When we arrived in Ireland, we knew no-one, and the fact that I’d been a pastor in America didn’t mean much - Christians there had endured real persecution, being ostracized by family for their decision to follow Christ. Although it wasn’t easy, I tried to take to heart advice I had received from a seasoned missionary: I would need to earn respect by keeping my mouth shut and serving. That wasn’t always easy, but I’m grateful to report that it payed off in the end.

 

I’m sad to report that we do have some missionary friends who were unable to serve in the country they felt called to, not because they weren’t willing to sacrifice: they were, not because they weren’t skilled or willing to work hard: they were, they were disqualified because the depth and seriousness of this requirement for humility caught them so off-guard.

 

And if Christians ever needed to proceed with humility it’s now. We are accused of being bigoted. We are accused of being unloving. What advice does the Apostle Peter have for us? Stand up and be heard? no. Stand up for our rights? no. It’s ‘be ready to suffer for doing good.’ It’s ‘be humble, repaying insult with blessing.’ ‘Ready with an answer for the hope with have, with gentleness and respect.’

 

3.Released with Authenticity

Jesus: ‘I came that you might have abundant life.’ We weren’t just saved to witness or saved to serve, we were saved to learn how to really live. Our Christian outreach is not something contrived we need to fit into our lives. It is our lives!

Ephesians 2 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Our Christian service is who we are. It’s built in. We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works - he prepared it in advance. How? He wove it into our DNA.

 

Steven Boal, a Surfer in Ireland obeyed God and started Christian Surfers International. He met and shared Christ with Irish Surfing Champion, John McCarthy. They became friends, saw a need and planted the only indigenous Evangelical church for probably 30 miles in any direction.

Steven and John started just by doing what they loved, then they went a step further and took risky steps of obedience. The end result is a powerful ministry flowing out of who they are.

 

You’ve likely heard this story of Moses at the burning bush. After a bit of trouble in Egypt Moses had been exiled to the desert. He met his wife and found a new career as a shepherd. Forty years later he seemed glad to be away from Egypt and all of the drama when he encountered God at a bush which was on fire but wouldn’t burn up. God told Moses to go back to Egypt to represent Him and he didn’t think it was such a good idea.

 

Exodus 4: 1-5
But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The LORD never appeared to you’?” Then the LORD asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied. “Throw it down on the ground,” the LORD told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.
Then the LORD told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand. “Perform this sign,” the LORD told him. “Then they will believe that the LORD, the God of their ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—really has appeared to you.”

 

Where do you start when you are trying to represent what God means to you to a world or a person who needs Him? Start with authenticity. Start with who you are. What is the need and what is in your hand?

Brian Houston of Hillsong Church says “Use what is in your hand to fulfill what is in your heart."

 

Steven Boal was a plumber with a surfing hobby and a passion for ministry. He started with what was in his hand.

We have a bunch of CoderDojo mentors who give 2 Thursdays a month with the same approach. They want to help our church serve the community. They want to make connections with people who need Jesus. They know programming, and so they are using what is in their hand to fulfill what is in their heart.

 

We have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives. We go to work or school, we spend time at home, we go to church - but really it’s all one thing. One big opportunity to glorify God, with our talents, our personality, even our shortcoming.

 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Col. 3.23

 

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1Pet. 4.10 NIV)