After this, the Lord chose seventy-two others and sent them out in pairs ahead of him into every town and place where he planned to go. Â Â Luke 10:1 (NCV)
John the Baptist is the one Isaiah the prophet was talking about when he said:
“This is a voice of one who calls out in the desert:
‘Prepare the way for the Lord.
Make the road straight for him.’ ” (Isaiah 40:3) Â Â Â Matthew 3:3 (NCV)
Jesus is still sending us, His disciples, out. He sends us ahead of Him into every place where He has plans to go. And He plans to go everywhere. Jesus has given us all that we need. His Spirit is within us; His gifts are there as He knows we will need. So what is preventing the harvest from being brought into God’s Kingdom?
John the Baptist kept it simple. He was told to preach about repentance, turning away from sin and man’s own way of doing things, and that is what John did. He did not try to make disciples that followed him but instead pointed them to the One who was to come. He didn’t sit down and develop a program or build a sanctuary so people could tithe and support him and the campus. He just did what he was told. And what did Jesus tell the 72 to do?
Get to work and do not be distracted. What is it in my life that I am passionate about? There is a reason I have that passion. God gave it to me and the gifts or talents to do it and do it with joy. The question that I have to ask myself is: What is more important â€“ financial and career success or doing something that may not be as financially advantageous as it is satisfying to my spirit? Now these are not mutually exclusive things but I do believe that I must seek my life’s work with a mindset that is in â€œright relationshipâ€ (righteous) with what God wants me to be doing in His Kingdom? In other words, I can have a passion for teaching and gifts to do that and be a success but job choices should always be made, not with advancement in mind, but with how I can serve God and His children better. I must guard myself not to be seduced off God’s plan for me.
Work to produce Kingdom fruit. I know a wonderful pastor who has a passion for outreach and discipleship. He has a gift for exhortation and encouragement that God can use to bring His sheep into the sheep pen. He was given a church near a major university. It didn’t take much vision or discernment to see how God could use this congregation to reach out to the students â€“ â€œCome for a free meal every Tuesday night and some fellowship!â€ and there would be mentors to help in studies or just share a cup of coffee and â€“ wait for it â€“ talk about their questions about God and life! No brainer, right? Nope, the church didn’t want to do that. They did a lot of â€œstuffâ€ and were a â€œbusyâ€ church but they weren’t interested in producing Kingdom fruit but just inbreeding their own appetites. The pastor was soon moved â€“ because God will not waste His resources!
Is what I am doing in my life producing fruit that will last for eternity? It is fine for me to share with my grandchildren about their familial roots but, more importantly, am I sharing with them about our Father in heaven and His work in our family? Is our church having fellowship dinners to slap each other on the back and spend time together or are we opening our doors with food and fellowship to bring in the sheep lost outside our doors?
Stay humble. When the 72 told Jesus about how demons submitted to them in His name, He cautioned them not to get all excited about what they were accomplishing but that they themselves were saved by the LORD. No matter what may be seen by human eyes as my accomplishments, I must never forget Who has really done the best in me. And on the other hand, no matter what isn’t seen by the world, no matter how un-successful the world may see me, my Father knows my deeds and will reward me accordingly. That can be so hard to keep working in God’s vineyard and do it without the encouragement and support of those you love. John the Baptist was by himself and thought to be one strange dude in his animal skins and dinners of bugs and roadside fruit. Jesus’ family thought He was crazy and came to bring Him home to come to His senses. They set the path of perseverance for me.
I’ve been a race to run. Jesus has sent me out with His name. I am on my knees today that I may be used by Him â€“ an ordinary tool in the hand of an Extraordinary LORD. May I be found faithful for He is faithful to me.
Find Us Faithful written and sung by Steve Green