It is the parent who goes to work every day and works long, hard hours even when they don’t want to…
It is the parent who works hard at home cleaning, cooking, and guiding children – day in and day out…
It is the student who is tired and wants to go out with friends, but instead they study for tomorrow’s final…
It is the US citizen who hears about many who want to look the other way and normalize homosexuality, but stands firm on God’s Word and says marriage is between a man and a woman…
It is the US citizen who sees the hate from those who want to kill innocent babies in the womb, but instead reaches out in love with the gospel & says no to murder…
It is these…and much more…that shows people in every day life staying on the mission God entrusted to them – and we must stay on mission as well! Take a moment and read Acts 15:36-39.
3 HELPS to Stay on Mission
Stay focused on your mission
Consider the amount of travel this missionary team had already accomplished for the cause of Christ! They started at a seaport in Antioch (Acts 13). Sailed to Cyprus (80 miles). Landed in Salamis & preached in the synagogues and then traveled the entire southern coast of the island of Cyprus…until they reached Paphos (this is where Saul becomes Paul and takes the lead of the missionary team).
From Paphos they sailed north up to the Asian mainland (today it is called Turkey). They reached Pamphylia and John Mark left the team. Paul & Barnabas continued 100 miles to Pisidian, Antioch. It is here that Paul makes his first recorded sermon and many are saved (Acts 13:16-51). They experience their first recorded persecution here (Acts 13:51) but continued on.
They get to Iconium, many are saved, but more persecution follows. This time the persecution grows in its intensity with a murder plot being discovered (Acts 14:5-6).
They continued traveling southeast to Lystra, a very idolatrous city. The people want to call Paul & Barnabas gods. Paul & Barnabas correct their thinking, but the persecutors from Antioch & Iconium had followed them to Lystra. Paul was stoned and left for dead in this city (Acts 14:18-20). Paul survives and the next day they travel to Derbe and preach.
After Derbe, they return along their route through Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. They went straight back to the places that ran them out of town, stoned them, and tried to kill them – because those new churches needed leadership (Acts 14:23). Then they boarded a ship to return to Antioch…it had been two years of constant travel, preaching, starting new churches, people trying to kill them – and many people saved! When they arrived home, they gave a report to the believers of all that God had done.
It is the beginning of the second missionary journey that we find ourselves in Acts 15:36.
These men were no longer novices.
They knew of the hardship of travel by foot and by sea.
They knew of misery of beatings and murderous plots.
They also knew of the power of preaching truth and many trusting Christ.
WHAT KEPT THEM ON MISSION?
What was more stirring than the terror of a stoning that they would set their course forward to more of the same?
What was more motivating than the aching of their feet and sore backs from the rigorous travel schedule?
What could possibly be more appealing that they would look past those who want to kill them for preaching the gospel?
The answer is the gospel.
They were focused on the reality of the saving grace of Jesus. They were focused on the reality of Jesus! What they faced (physical harm and discomfort) was temporary…what they had to offer (Jesus is the way) was eternal.
They were clear on their mission and ran to it. How clear are we on our mission?
Do you know your church’s mission statement? This is what we say we are aiming to do as a church. This would be pretty important to know!
At our church, our mission statement reads, “We seek to exalt the Lord God above all else, faithfully evangelize the lost, and edify one another; depending upon God’s empowering, to bring about fruitful ministry.” Each of us is the church. How well are you doing at staying on mission?
2. Guard against complacency
Think about the thought processes we often go through. “This is good enough for me.” While that’s great and all – we aren’t doing ministry for us…we are doing ministry for the Lord. (I Cor. 10:31)
Here’s another common thought process, “Someone else will do it…I’ve done my part in the past. It’s someone else’s turn!” The song writer put it a different way: “I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus?”
This kind of logic exposes the wrong motives and wrong thinking. My action for Christ cannot be dependent on what I like or what others are doing!
3. Keep your motivation clear
We do what we do because we value it! There are 7 episodes on my YouTube channel about our values. Here are some core Biblical values to consider when choosing what to do:
the Gospel - gospel speaking (Mk. 16:15; Acts 1:8), gospel living (Jas. 1:27), gospel investing (Matt. 28:19)
People - Jn. 15:12-Love; Jas. 1:27 -help those in need; Prov. 27:17; Phil. 2:1-30 – teamwork
Excellence – I Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23 - strive to do everything for the Lord
Commitment - II Cor. 5:14; Matt. 22:36-40 – a love for God that permeates everything we do. Rom. 12:1-2 – sacrifice for God that is personal, motivated, and alive. This commitment is NOT dependent on what others do…however, it IS dependent on two things: better understanding God’s love for us AND choosing an intense love for God.
Trust – we voluntarily choose to follow God (Prov. 3:5-7). We mean what we say and we say what we mean (Romans 12:17)…we actively pursue doing right.
Cooperation – I Cor. 12:13-26. this requires respect and trust…to put it another way – it requires confidence in the work of God in the life of another and genuine, growing, godly character in our own lives.
Community – this includes unity, but it is larger than unity. Unity has 100% of the people agreeing 100% of the time. Community still pursues unity (Eph. 4:2-3), but when non-doctrinal disagreement is present, community still moves forward together. Community grows and is healthy when our focus is loving others as we have been loved by God. When God loves, He gives extravagantly (John 3:16)! Community dies on the altar of selfishness. We value finding joy in what we give others, not in what we get from others. Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mk. 10:45)!
Marla Runyan gave her all to qualify for the Olympic Games in 1996, but her best time finished short of the mark to make the United States team. Undeterred by that failure, she returned in 2000 and made the team for the Sydney Olympics. Her eighth place finish in the 1,500 meter race was the best finish ever for a United States woman runner. The thing that makes Runyan’s accomplishments even more remarkable is that she is legally blind. She is the first legally blind athlete to ever qualify for and compete in the Olympic Games. After her Olympic career was over she switched to running marathons and in 2002 posted the second fastest debut marathon time ever by an American woman.
Runyan can only see shapes and blurs, but she says that her lack of vision is actually an asset—she just focuses on the finish line in front of her rather than looking around to see what the other runners are doing. Not having visual distractions helps her compete and win her races. (Source: USA Track and Field)
May we ask the Lord to make each us more God Focused and less Me-Focused.