I’m calling these parables apostolic because they define a church that sees itself as sent-ones, sent by God from heaven with God’s grace from heaven, to invest wherever God has placed us on earth.
takes an effort to experience the gifts and works of the Holy Spirit outside the sanctuary, and it’s worth every bit of it. Three of Jesus’ parables, all in Matthew 25, tell us what sort of effort to make. The parable of the five wise and the five foolish virgins, makes it clear that we need to stay filled with the Spirit, so we’ll be ready when a door of divine opportunity opens. Then, the parable of the talents tells us to invest what we’ve received in Christ. Finally, the parable of the sheep and the goats tells us where to invest: in people, and especially in those who are needy.
It can take an effort to stay filled with the Spirit. The main effort we need to make is to seek God in secret. It can happen in prayer, in worship, in Bible study, in soaking, or in many other ways.
One great way to seek God in secret is to thank Him for what He’s given us in Christ. This doubles as a good way to identify what we can invest in others as we go through the day’s activities. In view of the riches God has given us in Christ, there is much more to every believer trhan any of us will see when we look in the mirror, until the days come when we start shining with His visible glory.
It takes still another effort to go where we can invest the riches of Christ in us, we need to go where people are. For many of us, this doesn’t take any special effort. A typical day will often place us with people, at school or at work, in restaurants or in stores. But then, if we act on the words of Jesus and “lift up our eyes,” and behold Him, we often find ourselves in moments of divine opportunity.
But sometimes we need to identify the places where God is calling us to troll for divine appointments. My Bible reading today took me to a verse in Acts that shows me God must have taught Paul where to look for divine appointments. Here’s the quote:
They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. (Acts 17:1-4)
Paul made it a habit to use the opportunities that made best use of the gifts God had given him – everything from his Jewishness, his grasp of the scripture, and his knowledge of the customs and mores of his kinsmen, the Jewish people.
I’m sure it took prayer and heart-searching to develop this sense of mission, so that he had a customary way of looking for divine appointments whenever he was led to bring the gospel to a new territory.
Has God given you this kind of focus yet? It isn’t that we all have to be apostles, but we do need to begin to think of ourselves as sent-ones, people sent out with a God-given mission pf love, healing, and grace. .
As you linger in His presence and step out to act on His words to you, you’ll begin to identify where you can best find divine opportunities.
I know one lady who goes to her city’s bus station week by week. She’s also been led to give haircuts to the homeless. When I was a pastor in metro-Detroit, we often took a team of street evangelists to Clark Park on Friday nights. Sometimes we also worked with a coffee-house ministry in another neighborhood, going out onto the streets and compelling people to come in.
Some of these assignments are seasonal. They might last for a few days, a few weeks, or, a few months.This means God will sometimes tell you it’s time to find new ways to reach out.
It’s all part of how God will send us to the people all around us. “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
Stan Smith :: © 2011, GospelSmith :: http://www.GospelSmith.com