The Church Scattered
The Church Scattered
Words of Faith 7-30-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 After this the Lord appointed seventy two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
 "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.'  If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.  Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
 "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.'  But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,  'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.'  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
We have been captured by the vision of what Christ is doing. We have seen the attacks that come in the valley. Luke now will show us a picture of what the church is about. We primarily think of the church as the gathered body of Christ. The gathering is not the real measure of the power in this or any move of God. The greater measure is in the scattering.
The real measure of what God had done in the hearts of is seen as people return home to their homes and communities. The same was true in the ministry of Jesus as we see it unfold. Today we catch some glimpse the church scattered and we can see several powerful aspects of the ministry of the Church that goes on between the mountaintops.
1) Jesus had a STRATEGY. The Lord appointed seventy two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. The strategy of the Lord is not focused on gathering; it is focused on scattering. There is no doubt that there is power in the gathering of the church by the Spirit of God and the Word proclaimed. Jesus gathered large crowds of ten to fifteen thousand as he taught. But that is only part of the Biblical picture. Jesus had a growing following. The circle of disciples-- followers of Jesus-- had been enlarged. It would have been nice just to keep those people close around him, but, that is not the way it works. But Jesus knew that the real measure is not in a crowd that gathers but in disciples scattered. It was time for a scattering of the church. Jesus shows us that ministry in the valley is not done in stadiums but in the villages.
We often get hung up on what the church looks like when we get together. Numbers seem to be important. We think a lot about where we will meet, what kind of music and worship we will have and what kind of chairs or pews we will sit in. It is interesting that the most frequent feedback I receive as a pastor concerns not the content of the message but the temperature of the worship setting. What we often fail to realize is that the gathering just a preparation for the scattering. Who we are as a church is seen when we go OUT the doors much more than when you are in the doors. Buildings are a great tool. Worship is significant and teaching is vital, but the gathering is only a preparation for the scattering.
The strategy of Jesus was not to hold people close to Him. His strategy was to equip them and send them out. Just a few chapters earlier Jesus sent out the Twelve. They had a great ministry. There was nothing that they could not accomplish for God. The power of God was with them. The ministry had now multiplied. There very likely were a several hundred people hanging around Jesus as He began to journey toward Jerusalem. From this crowd, Jesus appointed 72. Seventy two is significant because it was the number of known nations in the world at the time of Jesus. We don't know who or even how they were appointed. Clearly it was the strategy of Jesus to expand, send out and scatter.
There is another important observation here. Instead of holding on to ministry the way that the disciples seemed to, the way of Jesus was to let go of ministry. In stead of controlling people in ministry, the way of Jesus was to set people free to do ministry. Of course Jesus was going to all these places. The job of these ministers was to go before Jesus and prepare the way for Him. As people called by Christ, we are to go ahead of Him and announce that the Kingdom of God is near.
2) Jesus called for PRAYER -- He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
There is no real ministry that is not overwhelming. There is no genuine ministry task that is not far beyond what we feel we are able to do. We are always in adequate. We always are challenged to trust God for things that are bigger than we are. If God calls us to do it it will always be bigger than we are. If a ministry is something we can manage by ourselves then we really don't need God, do we? We will always wonder-- Where will the people come from who are going to do this ministry? For Jesus, the seventy-two were not enough. They could not reach the nations. But Jesus has an answer. PRAY.
Jesus did not ask the disciples to recruit or form a volunteer movement. He said: PRAY and ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. We are to pray for God to send out workers. Jesus never asked for volunteers. He never asked people to do the work of ministry. Jesus does not recruit workers. He invites followers. God the Father, through the Spirit, sends out workers.
We are called to PRAY. We pray in the local church for the Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, missionaries and evangelists. But be ready because sometimes when we pray, we may also be sent.
3) Jesus called for FAITH -- Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
The advice is similar to that given to the twelve when they were sent out. Trust God daily for what is needed. When you find peace returned in a house, this is the place to stay. Those who are blessed by you are right to feed and shelter you for a worker is worthy of a wage. Yet, following Jesus requires absolute trust in Him. It is not a sin to take provision or to plan but it is a sin to put our trust in our own abilities, talents, resources, reserves and strategies. Without faith it is impossible to please God! (Hebrews 11:6)
4) Jesus called for KINGDOM WORK -- Heal the sick. Preach the Kingdom that is near. That is the mission statement of the Kingdom. We are not called to make converts or even attendees. We are not called to even be successful or report good numbers. We are called to be faithful to the message and work of the Kingdom.
If you are not welcomed, do not stay. Make a statement. Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feel we wipe off against you. Jesus would not have said this if He did not know that we will face rejection. Hurt. But you must put the past behind you wipe off the dust and move on. You are not to be concerned with results. You are to be concerned with the Kingdom.
This is picture of the scattered church.
Are you part of the scattered church or are you mostly concerned with the gathering? Have you been receiving from Jesus? Is it time for you to be part of the scattered nature of the Body of Christ? Is there something that the Lord is calling you to?
Father God, show me where it is that You desire for me to serve You. Teach me the life of prayer and multiplication through others. Teach me to walk by faith into places I never would have dreamed I would go. Show me the work of the Kingdom that You desire to do through me. Raise up the workers for the harvest, In Jesus' name.