We’re continuing our series entitled Simple. Throughout this series, we’ve been talking about some of the same things we talked about in 2007 when we had this simple idea to start a church in South Tampa. Because the thing is with simple ideas is that as you move down the road, sometimes people forget why they began doing it in the first place.
As we jump in, I want to read the opening statement from our very first ministry plan . . .
“Logos Dei Church is committed to being a missional church; stepping beyond the boundaries of tradition and engaging the culture with a message of justice, grace, hope, and reconciliation by finding where God was already at work and getting on board.”
It was out this commitment that we began meeting at the YMCA, it’s why we started the first ever MOPS program in a YMCA, worked in the yards of the elderly, sponsored children in the foster care system, twice led Financial Peace University.
It’s why we built wells in Malawi, provided birthing kits and an ambulance in Ethiopia, provided new white boards to a school in Liberia, provided bicycles to teachers in Africa, fed and clothed the homeless in Tampa, and why we’ve given away thousands of dollars to families who just needed a little help.
Our mission . . . our call . . . is to nurture people on their journey toward becoming authentic disciples of Jesus and we do that by moving together as The Church, finding where God is already at work and engaging our culture in that place.
Otto Von Bismarck, a Prussian statemen in the 1800s said it this way . . . “our task is to hear God's footsteps marching through history, and to try and catch on to His coattails.”
It’s that simple.
Our text this evening came from the gospel of Luke, chapter 10 but just before this a transition has taken place in Jesus’ ministry . . . Luke 9:51 reads; “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
This is Jesus staking his claim, and determining his future . . . “This is who I am, this is where I’m going, and this is what I’m doing.”
And so now he is on this multi month walk toward Jerusalem, toward the cross, toward his place of death, burial, resurrection, and ascension . . . and he’s building a team of people to help him accomplish this mission set before him.
He has the 12 who have been following him for a few years and have been trained by him and now he adds 72 more people. In our culture, we would call them volunteers.
You see Jesus understands that ministry isn’t supposed to be done by an individual; lone rangers with big visions but rather by a team of people, called and led by God to work together to accomplish his mission and His purpose.
The same reason we have ministry teams here at Logos Dei. If we want to accomplish our mission . . . it’s gonna take a committed group of people. It’s gonna take all of us.
So Jesus adds 72 more people to his team and he sends them out 2 by 2. And He does this, I believe to create some accountability; making sure that they don’t compromise the mission.
You see, it’s easy to get pumped up when you first get involved in something – especially when you’ve got a leader with a great vision - but we can quickly get side tracked by life, boredom, frustration
So Jesus sends them out 2 by 2 to work things through, to talk things over, to learn together, and pray together. To hold one another accountable to the commitments they made together.
So he sends these volunteers out 2 by 2 and what he tells them is that the harvest is plentiful, that there is great opportunity, there are people whom God has already been working on.
They just need someone to come and serve them and speak to them, and pray with them, and answer their questions, and to see them come to a relationship with Jesus.
In short, they are called to practice the faith that they had confessed and to help make the invisible kingdom, visible. And by doing this 72 are transformed from bystanders to active participants in the work of God.
This is an exciting call . . . God has already done the work you just have to go out and harvest!
But you have to go empty handed. You can’t bring money, no sword to protect yourself, no food or supplies, no sandals for your feet. You have to leave all of those comforts and necessities at home and go only with a message; the kingdom of God has come near.
And yeah, before I forget . . . you’re gonna be mocked, made fun of, opposed, and rejected. And there are gonna be these wolves out to get you on this journey who are going to try to get you to compromise your mission and everything that I’ve taught you.
OK team, bring in your hands . . . 1, 2, 3 ready . . . break!
How’s that for a locker room pep talk? But, Jesus needed them to be aware of how perilous the work of the gospel would be and he needed them to trust that God has already done the work and that he would take care of their every need along their Journey . . . so, no stuff, just a message!
Well, the 72 go out into villages and they do ministry, and they pray for people and they share Jesus with people. They see lives changed, bodies healed and they come back to Jesus and they are just buzzing. They’re thrilled. They’re excited. They’re like, “Jesus, you’ll never guess what . . . it was just like you said it would be, and we’re so excited about it.”
Jesus says, “You think that’s amazing . . . I’ve got something even better than that. There’s a father who loves you, and heals you, and redeems you, and rejoices in you and I’m on this mission to build His kingdom and your name is written on the list of those who will inherit this kingdom”
Boo yah . . . What, what! As Jesus tells them this truth, he is fired up. He’s excited. He’s rejoicing.
But what’s got him so fired up? It can’t be his circumstances. He’s walking over rugged terrain in the heat with a bunch of his disciples, some of whom are really weird. He’s homeless, not sure where he’s gonna eat his next meal and he constantly has to battle with religious dudes. And he’s marching toward Jerusalem to get murdered. So it’s certainly not the circumstances that have got him pumped up.
Out text says that he was rejoicing in The Holy Spirit. You see, the Holy Spirit brings joy even in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances.
So as the 72 are reporting back to Jesus about the amazing things that God has been doing through them, Jesus is pumped up, he’s excited, he’s rejoicing in the Holy Spirit and then he prayed,
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and reveled them to little children; yes, Father for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my father, and no one knows who the Son is except the father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Let’s unpack this . . .
When Jesus prays to the father, he is modeling for us the fact that God is a father who loves us and desperately wants to be in relationship with us . . . He always has!
And then Jesus says, “I’m the only person on earth who knows God” . . . that’s a big statement!
Jesus is saying, “As the son of God, the father and I have been together perfectly and eternally.”
- He knows me like no one else
- I know him like no one else
- And no one knows him unless I reveal him to them.
Here’s the point. No one knows God the father apart from God the Son. No one knows God apart from Jesus.
You see, it’s about Jesus. And if you understand that, the Holy Spirit wells up in you with rejoicing. There’s an enthusiasm and excitement.
Yeah, all that other stuff in my life really stinks . . . but God loves me anyway . . . that rocks!
Now some of you are a bit stuffy . . . you can’t get fired up about this stuff because you live in your head and you feel that you might look a little foolish if you get a little pumped up about Jesus.
So Jesus says, “Rejoice. If you know the father is in you . . . rejoice because the holy spirit takes the love, joy, and peace of God and puts it in the child of God and we should get just a little fired up about it.
Well, he pulls the disciples aside and he says, “All right, guys, here’s the deal. You remember what the prophets said and what the kings wanted . . . You remember that?”
“Oh yeah, Jesus, we remember all of that.”
“Okay, here’s the deal . . . its happening. The kingdom of God is among you, because the king is here, and the kingdom is showing up.
- You know why those demons obeyed you?
- You know why people are getting healed?
- You know why people are getting saved?
The kingdom of God has dawned. That’s why all of this of this is happening and you really need to get a little fired up about that.
It’s as if Jesus says, “We just need to stop for a minute and pay attention to what’s been happening. And then rejoice in that! Throw a little party . . .
‘Wow, God. You let me see what you’re doing and be a part of it.’”
But do you know what’s amazing? They hadn’t even seen him rise from death yet.
He hadn’t gotten to Jerusalem. He hadn’t died on the cross. He hadn’t risen from the dead. He hadn’t conquered sin, and death. He hadn’t yet ascended into heaven. He had not yet sent the Holy Spirit.
Logos Dei, we are on this side of the cross and to be honest with you, this can be the most exciting season in the history of our church.
Yeah, money’s tight. Our numbers are down. And we don’t always get the words right on the screen.
But Jesus is pulling us aside today and he’s saying, “Look at what’s going on. Look what God is doing. The harvest is ripe, people are ready to hear this message of hope and grace that I have given to you and have been preparing for you . . .
So, get pumped up and be filled with joy and enthusiasm and hope and expectancy because the harvest is ripe, but the workers are few.
So, here’s what were’ gonna do. We’re gonna share in communion with one another so that we can be reminded of what Christ has done for us and during that time, I want you to reflect on where you see God at work in your life and I want you to think about how you can grab hold of the coattails of God.
We have a great vision, mission, and calling but it can’t get done without you!