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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
We've just listened to people from our congregation quote this precious
verse in over a dozen different languages. My thanks to Steve Kennedy and
Susan Jones who organized the linguists for this morning.
As I listen to this verse in English, I can understand the words, but
it is difficult to understand the meaning until I hear it in different
languages. Only then does the phrase "so loved the world" really come through.
After the events of 9-11, professional Baseball changed an age-old tradition
of singing "take me out to the ballpark" during the seventh inning stretch
by asking the crowd to stand and sing "God bless America" together. In
these days we invoke God's blessings upon America, as we should, but when
we do, we cannot forget that the gospel is not the property of America,
neither do we have exclusive claim to God's love. The gospel belongs to
the whole world-the world that God created and that He loves.
Christmas did not begin with a love for Americans, it began because
of God's love for the world. Because God loves the world, some of us are
compelled to go to "the uttermost" parts of the earth. People like Jessie
and Wendy Jennings.
Jessie was away for a few days and Wendy was ministering alone. A child
from the village was in the hospital, so Wendy faithfully went each day
to minister to the family and pay for medicine he needed each day. In the
Philippines, the hospitals will not tabulate a bill for medicine, rather,
they require payment for it before it is administered.
Jessie and Wendy Jennings are missionaries for the International Missions
Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Their assignment is Evangelism
in the Philippines.
They live in the village of their target group without many modern conveniences
we take for granted. The water supply is inconsistent. Each morning, Wendy
has to make a judgement call whether there is sufficient water in the tank
for the family to have the luxury of taking a shower that day.
Their job is to win the confidence of the people they live among and
win them to faith in Jesus. It sounds simple enough, but sometimes their
commitment compels them to perform tasks not in their job descriptions.
The last day Wendy went to the hospital, she was in a hurry. Her intent
was to take public transportation to the hospital, spend a few minutes
with the family, then hurry to her daughter's school to attend a special
Her plans changed when she arrived at the hospital; the little boy was
dead. "How are you going to take him home?" she asked the mother. "I don't
know," she cried.
Wendy knew what she had to do. She rode the public transportation home,
changed her clothes and let her daughter know that she couldn't go to the
program. She got on her small motorcycle and went back to the hospital.
The mother held her son's cold body in her arms and got on the saddle
seat behind Wendy. Riding the motorcycle was enough of a challenge, but
now she had to drive it with the weight of three people while driving on
a bumpy, primitive road.
The mother leaned forward and Wendy felt the cold, stiff body of the
dead boy against the small of her back. With tears rolling down her cheeks,
she cried a silent prayer, "Lord, I can't do this--help me to do this."
(Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
She discovered that day that God provides the strength to minister when
called upon to do things not in her job description. If Jessie and Wendy
are willing to go and do things not in their "job description," shouldn't
we be willing to pray for them?
Couldn't we pray like Esther Hill does?
Esther Hill stood in an open market weeping over the city. As she did,
she prayed, "I join your Son Jesus in weeping over this city." Those tears
changed her life, and the people she wept for.
When she returned to West Virginia, she challenged others to join her
in doing something about the spiritual condition of Mongolia that at the
time, had only 3 or 4 known believers.
Seven years later, Christians were planting churches in Mongolia and
Mongolians were converting to Christ in record numbers.
What did Eshter and her friends do that made such an impact on this
unreached people group? They prayed. (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Isaiah 65:24 says, "It will also come to pass that before they call,
I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." (NASB)
And when we get through praying, shouldn't we be willing to give to
Like many believers, Karen Sparks had trusted God with her salvation,
but wasn't sure she was trusting God with everything. She wasn't sure that
is until she returned from a mission trip to Equador. On that trip she
noticed how the believers there literally trusted God for their daily bread.
When she returned, she began praying, "God help me to trust You for
everything like the believers in Guayaquil." Not long after that prayer,
her church sent out offering envelopes and she noticed that one of the
envelopes was for International Missions. As she considered how much money
she should put in the envelope, Sparks began to think about how the widow
gave all she had. "Well, Lord, I'm not a widow. This can't apply to me."
She sensed the Lord saying "Yes it does."
So Sparks balanced her check book and wrote a check for everything she
had and put it in the envelope. She held onto the envelope for a couple
of days just in case God changed His mind, when He didn't, she put the
check in the mail.
That evening, she went to her pantry and surveyed its contents. There
wasn't enough for a week, much less a month. She would have to trust the
Lord for her daily bread.
The Lord provided every meal. "No, I didn't have any extra, but I never
missed a meal." Sparks said, "Our God is good, and I can truly say that
when we are determined to trust Him completely, He will provided for us
just like He says." (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
After praying about what we should give to the Lottie Moon Christmas
Offering this year, Susan and I decided to give the money that we'd usually
spend on each other for Christmas. I couldn't think of a greater gift I
could receive, than the knowledge that the gospel was being spread around
the world. I can't think of a greater gift that I could give than to give
to missions, in the name of one I love.
Some of us, God sends to the mission field, like He did Jessie and Wendy
Jennings. Others He gives a burden to pray, like He did Esther Hill. Still
others, He prompts to give, like He did Karen Sparks. But all of us have
a responsibility to the world. Because God so loved the world that he gave
. . ."