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Revive ‘05 on the Launching Pad Acts 13:1-3
In 1983, a movie was released called “The Right Stuff”, a documentary of the US
Space Program. After years of testing and sending animals into space, it came
time for the first manned space flight. And on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard
climbed inside a little capsule attached to a rocket…he was on the launching
pad. The countdown began, and the entire future of our space program rested
upon that launch being successful. It was a momentous few minutes in America.
And since that day the US has dominated the race for space, going to Mars, and
thru many ups and downs mankind has gone mostly up, accomplishing many great
things throughout our solar system.
In Acts 13, the church is on the launching pad, the gospel is on the move,
foreign missions gets it’s birth here, w/ the first missionaries sent out of
the church. And what started in the hearts of a few people is about to be sent
to the far reaches of the globe. And that’s what the Lord wanted, right?
…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
A broad outline of the book of Acts would be:
Chapters 1-7…the gospel fills the city of Jerusalem
8-12…to Judaea and Samaria
beginning in ch. 13…to the whole earth.
And this is our handbook, that’s our example…we have a mandate as the church of
God, to get the gospel out. It’s why we have a missions program, God wants
Christians to be involved in missions. [repeat]
You can pray, you can give, and you can go. And you ought to do all 3!
And another thing, technology is what has helped mankind go further and deeper
into space, and today our church has more of a global impact because of
technology. There’s people to reach right thru the computer! The website sermon
ministry has made it around the world. And we ought to use technology. Paul
used everything at his disposal. To speak to a crowd, he may have to cup his
hands, or seat the folks on a hillside, but if he had a sound system, he’d use
it! If he could have a 15 passenger van, he’d really go to town. He didn’t have
anything over 1 horsepower [think about it!] But if he could have a world wide
web, he would have!
Kyle led a friend to the Lord over instant messenger. Many of you receive daily
devotionals by email. And just this week we received 8 new subscriptions to our
website sermon ministry, taking us up well over 300 subscribers. And more than
half of them are pastors and missionaries around the world using the outlines,
illustrations, powerpoint visuals, and jokes that they feel need to be carried
around the world! Seriously though, our impact as a church is multiplied
hundreds of times as each of them shares the good news of the gospel to their
I’m proud of our nation taking the lead w/ Tsunami recovery and taking on
global responsibility for peace and protection, esp. of children and those
living under tyranny. We need to help tsunami victims, and wed. nite I’ll be
telling you about a unique opportunity we have as a church to help orphans
created in this holocaust to have a place to live and eat, protected from child
sex traffickers and rather hearing the gospel, receiving new life! Bro.
Barlow’s brother, Jim Barlow, Missionary to Thailand, is all set up to help
them. You’ll have to come Wed. if you’re serious!
It’s time for the church to be more than a building. We must be a monument that
stands tall in the community. We must affect those across the street, but also
around the world. We must each, individually, take on some global
responsibility. It’s time for GBC to be famous for the gospel…again!
And Acts 13 lays before us the simple plan of how to get the job done. Let’s
look at how they did it, God’s way…the gospel on the launching pad…
Look w/ me at the 4 elements present in our text:
1. The Church of God
v. 1 “in the church”—that’s where missions is supposed to begin, not thru the
UN, the Red Cross, or otherwise, tho’ we should be thankful for any good work
that may be done by such organizations.
Missions should begin in the local church. It was the church that confirmed the
calling of Saul and Barnabus, and we’ve had young people right here come before
us to tell us of THEIR calling, praise God! It was the church that confirmed
those men/commissioned them to go/sent them forth…it was the church!
Within the first few words of this missions handbook of chapter 13 we find that
it is to begin “in the church”!
v. 2 Whom did God tell to separate and send them out? The church!
v. 3 Who did this? The church!
Which church? Well, not all…not many! Notice where this church was
located…Antioch, not Jerusalem. Why? In the early days of Christianity,
Jerusalem was the center of operations. But no longer. Antioch somehow became
the “Cape Canaveral” of foreign missions, the launching pad for the church.
Wonder why? Why would God move the headquarters/center of ops? Many historians
and Bible scholars say that the church at Jerusalem became narrow/restricted in
its focus. They lost their fervor and zeal for winning souls and when they did,
God moved on.
Folks, God always moves on when a church loses it’s missions mindedness and
compassion for souls. Many today sit here thinking only of themselves, and
what’s wrong in their life, saying, “bless me, bless me”, not knowing that the
very fix to their problems begins w/ them living for something OTHER than
Antioch was a much smaller church, but God decided to use it because it was a
church w/ a heart for others! And throughout history God has always chosen a
location to be a base of operations for worldwide evangelism. Let me
I already mentioned that it began in Jerusalem, but they became narrow in their
focus and God moved on.
Then it went to Antioch for many years…but eventually God moved on from
Antioch, when they lost their burden.
Our Bibles tell us where it went next…to the church at Ephesus, in tremendous
power, but Revelation 2 reveals what happened there, they lost their love, and
God moved on! The church had to move on as well, hiding from persecution for
Next, God moved his headquarters to Constantinople, and under the leadership of
the emperor Constantine, in AD 313, the gospel moved out of the catacombs and
into the cathedral! This was the base of operations for years, but then
formalism crept in, and Christianity became dry and dead there…and God moved
Next was Rome, and it was good for a time, but then came the rise of Catholic
dogma, which replaced Holy Scripture, and ritual replaced relationship, and
ceremony and sacraments took the place of salvation…and God moved on!
Then Germany had great revival, God had His hand on that nation, and many
missionaries went forth, but history says that skepticism crept in,
rationalism, and something called “higher criticism”…soulwinning and missionary
work became a thing of the past, and God moved on!
From there, England became the center of activity, and had mighty revivals for
about 100 years, and they were the launching pad for world missions…and great
men like William Carey left England for places like India, and Hudson Taylor
for China, and many others…but eventually the church died and spiritual
lethargy spread like the plague had, and God moved on!
Then America came on the scene, and for many years we have been the center of
world outreach…a Christian nation which has sent out tens of thousands of
missionaries from our shores.
And I must raise the question, as we see our nation falling spiritually, could
it be that God is getting ready to move on? As the fires of evangelism go out
in our land and in our churches because of worldliness, complacency, and
comfort, should we expect God to remain?
Look at America today: we put on nice clothes, leave our nice homes, driving
our nice cars, we come to a nice building w/ nice pews and a nice atmosphere,
we hear a nice sermon, go eat a nice meal, take a nice nap…w/ no thought
whatsoever to the fact that millions and billions are still w/out hope, didn’t
have a nice day, and never will unless they are reached w/ the good news that
we are soooo spoiled with…now folks, that’s not nice!
God is not obligated to continue to use America for His world outreach! Nor is
He obligated to use GBC, unless we stay true to the scriptures, no matter who
leaves, unless we remain firm in the mission God has given us, unless we
continue to sacrifice for the sake of lost souls…otherwise, we should expect
history to repeat itself.
GBC was once famous for the gospel, and the people were proud to invite others
to hear it in power, and not ashamed to witness boldly no matter the cost, and
faithful even when it wasn’t convenient, and they gave ‘til it hurt, so we can
sit here in what they paid for!…I believe that church would be willing to do
something as miniscule as printing out a s.s. flyer sent right to their home
pc, or help save Mrs. Sheree’s life in children’s ministries, or drive that
vehicle or rock that baby, and we should too!
My prayer is that God will keep His hand on America, and that GBC can always be
a part of God’s plan, even if our nation goes to pot around us!
They say there’s 3 kinds of people in the world:
Those who make things happen
Those who watch things happen
Those who wonder “what happened?”
The same can be said about churches.
Some churches get on fire for God, for missions, for outreach, and they impact
their world, they make things happen.
Then there’s churches that know that God is working and moving, and like to try
to claim to be a part of the movement, but God doesn’t do great things in their
midst, and they don’t see souls saved, they just sorta watch as others make it
Then there’s those who have lost sight completely and have no clue. Ask them if
they are saved and they’d say, “saved from what?” They’ve degenerated to the
status of a social club.
I wanna be that 1st church that makes things happen, now how about you?
The church of God…
2. The Commanders of God
v. 1-3 Names of 5 men, leaders of the church, and they prayed and fasted. No
wonder God used this church as a launching pad. There must be truly spiritual
leadership. Now, that is a major challenge to me. I want to confide in you
[don’t tell anybody, ok!] that I am greatly challenged by that. Sometimes I
feel like I’ve got a lot more skills than spirituality. I’m pretty good at
challenging others to take a step up, but I can’t expect anyone to go where I
don’t go myself! I may be able to design services, but that doesn’t make me
right w/ God. Perhaps I’m musically gifted, but what does that have to do w/ my
heart? Maybe I have good outlines and good content that other pastors are
liking to use, but what does it do for you if I’m not a true man of God?
You need spirit-filled leadership…you deserve it, and you shouldn’t settle for
less. And I’m committed not to settle for less, because I want God’s best. And
this comes thru prayer and fasting…from food, yes, but from other things like
tv, or other hobbies or pleasures that you usually give time to. Fasting comes
when you get so hungry for the spiritual that you let go of the physical for a
time! And then you show God you’re serious, and that’s when you get His power
on your life!
And it doesn’t stop w/ the Pastor. You need deacons after that same vein. You
need teachers w/ that heart, workers who want to see God do great things, and
will fast and pray to see it happen, see their class grow, see that child
saved, encourage people to faithfulness and set the example themselves,
faithful even when not teaching or working!
The church/commanders of God…
3. The Call of God
v. 2 It was the Spirit that called. “Holy Ghost said…” It was unmistakably God,
not their momma. Saul and Barnabus didn’t put themselves into the ministry…they
didn’t make a career choice…they were God called. And I believe that God is
still calling, Amen?
I remember God’s call at youth camp at the age of 14, and it was real! I had
been pretty fickle like a lot of young people. I was gonna be a policeman and a
fireman for a few days, then play professional tennis, I wanted to be a pilot
until I found out I was color blind. I wanted to be a stand up comedian for a
while there…thank God I didn’t try to make my living that way! When I committed
myself to full-time ministry I wonder if my folks wondered “how long will this
last?” But it was of God, and this is the 16th year! God called me, and that
makes all the difference in the world.
I wasn’t ready for the challenge, but I didn’t need to be, I just needed to be
willing to answer the call. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the
Where God guides, He provides, where He leads, He feeds, where He directs, He
protects, and where He sends, He expends the resources necessary to make it all
And if you think God may be calling you, you can’t do better than to answer!
He’s called some of our own already, and I’m praying He calls more in Revive
The church/commanders/call of God…
4. The Commission of God
v. 3 We have the privilege of helping send people around the world.
On Thursday of this week, a certain bald fellow, his wife and son, got on a
plane in St. Louis and now they are on a small island across the big pond in
Hawaii beginning their mission work…but I remind you of the night when the
Underhiles knelt at this altar and you joined me in laying hands on them and
sending them out, under the authority of this local church!
I’m proud of our missions program, which has nearly tripled in the last 3
years, giving $22,000 in ’04 to 23 missionaries we support on continents around
the globe. And if you’re not on board, you ought to get on board. I mean, what
did you think about Missionary Jim and Amy Smith? Wouldn’t you like to take
them on? The good news is that after our missions conference in October, we had
several new people get on board giving to missions. The bad news is that
several actually jumped ship or decreased their pledges, leaving us at about
the same level as last year, and unable to take the Smiths to Japan onto our
team. But here’s some more good news, only 4 people making a $5/wk. pledge
above their tithe would make it possible! And when I hear from Bro. Gary that
we have it then we can take them on!
I said all of that to say this: we each need to be praying, reading our heroes’
updates, being aware, being in their corner…and we each need to be giving,
helping to send, but that’s not enough…we can’t “buy” our way into full
obedience…we also must go to our world! In other words, we need to be a
balanced church, local as well as global…Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of
Listen to what Paul said in 56 A.D.:
…from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the
gospel of Christ.
What was Paul saying? Simply that he had done everything he was commanded to
do, taking the gospel to those near and far. And it’s my prayer as the pastor
of GBC that by the end of Revive ‘05 every member of GBC could say the same
thing…I’ve taken responsibility across the street and around the world!
Ill.—if you get involved in missions, here’s what will happen: one day in
heaven, you’ll be approached by someone, thanking you for helping them to get
saved. Maybe they’ll be from Germany [Falks], or Russia [Hess], Costa Rica [Rhotons],
Mexico [Lilly], Hawaii [Underhile], Japan [Smiths], or a little child from
Thailand who lost his parents 2 weeks ago today.
You say, “but, I’ve never been there!” Yes, but you prayed, you gave, and thus,