In life, “the next chapter” can create in us a combination of excitement, fear, and sadness. Change can be hard, and change can be exactly what we need.
We can move forward with confidence and enjoy the adventure when we can see how where we are now is part of God’s plan for us.
Gateway is a community where you can “come as you are” AND grow to “change your world.” To that end, during the inspire service called “The Next Chapter,” we looked at how God has created each of us on purpose on for a purpose.
Here is the audio from the message I shared at Gateway South:
Here are notes from the message:
Finding meaning in life is a deep longing for all of us, and yet it seems to be something we struggle to find. The Barna Group reported in one survey that 75 percent of U.S. adults say they are looking for ways to live a more meaningful life. Only 40 percent of practicing Christians surveyed said they have a clear sense of God’s calling on their lives.
Do you know your mission? Have you discovered who God created you to be? Or have you found how you can best contribute to the world around you?
At the same time, if you know your mission, God can maximize your impact even more.
Let’s look at how Jesus helped those following Him find their mission.
A little context for our passage in Luke 10.
Jesus has become quite popular as he traveled from town to town healing people and teaching with an authority that amazed the people. Thousands would come to see him and hear him. A couple of times he’d miraculously fed 1000s of people. People wondered aloud: “could this be the Messiah who has come to rescue us?”
Then Jesus does something quite different than what he had done before.
Jesus called people out of the crowds and into action.
Jesus had already sent out his 12 disciples on a mission, but now he mobilized 70 people.
“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 someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, 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 offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’
“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
– Luke 10:1-11, 16 NIV
If spending time in the Bible is new for you, the way to help it come alive is to read it and determine what the message was to the original audience then we are better able to determine how we can apply the message to our lives.
So what is Jesus saying to the 70?
According to Luke 10, Jesus sent out 70 people on a mission to Go Find Needs:
- Go together -trusting and representing God.
- Find open-minded people who want what you have.
- Be fully present and meet their physical and spiritual needs
Go out together – trusting and representing God.
Jesus sent them out together in such a way that to accomplish their mission required trusting God and representing God.
I doubt the disciples felt equipped or ready!
We don’t see their response to Jesus’ directions: some of the 70 were probably saying: “Wait a minute, Jesus! I just came to sing some good songs! I just came to hear some inspiring messages! I just wanted to see you heal people! What do you mean go and don’t take anything? What do you mean you are sending us like sheep among wolves? Sheep usually get eaten by wolves! That doesn’t sound like fun!”
You see, throughout his ministry Jesus shared this spiritual principle: “if you lose your life serving others you will find your life.” This time he wasn’t just saying this. He was giving his followers a chance to experience this.
Some of us have stalled out in our spiritual growth because we’re isolated rather than in community or we are just living vicariously through others. We are hearing about what God is doing through others rather than putting ourselves in a position to experience God’s work in us and through us. We’re in the crowd. We’re hearing about Jesus, but too often we aren’t living out what Jesus is calling us to do.
Not sure what your calling is? Help someone else with theirs!
By connecting with others and letting others speak into your life,
we can find clarity on our mission.
After sending the 70 out with others on their mission, Jesus directed them to the second principle.
Find people who want what you have.
Jesus says to these 70:
Go and find people who have an open heart and open mind. In other words, find a “person of peace.”
This is so freeing! We are not looking to convert anyone or argue or debate with anyone. We are just looking for people who are searching.
Jesus sent them out with instructions not to greet anyone along the way. In those days, a greeting could include an entire meal. Jesus didn’t want them chit chatting or wasting time. He sent them out with a sense of urgency. When someone isn’t interested, just move on. Don’t take it personally. They are not rejecting you. They are rejecting the One who sent you.
You may be thinking: Find people that want what I have? Well, what do I have to offer?
Be fully present so you can meet physical and spiritual needs.
Back in Luke 10 –
Stay there, 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 offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ – Luke 10:7-9
What you have to offer is yourself.
Jesus said to his disciples: Stay where you are wanted. Stay where you are needed. Don’t go house to house.
This is so counter culture to how we live. We jump from job to job, from passion to passion, from mission to mission, from church to church, from relationship to relationship, from city to city.
What if we stayed fully present where we are now until we know God wants us to go somewhere else.
Austin is an incredibly transient city, and as a result, an incredibly lonely city. Fastest growing city in the USA also means many of those we enjoy move. As a result, we may hesitate to engage with others assuming they won’t be here long or we won’t be here long.
Do you realize: God wants to work in you and through you right here!
Stop wandering! Start serving!
He also reminded them to eat whatever they were offered. In other words, don’t worry about all of the religious rules about what is clean or not clean to eat. Jesus sent them out to the cities He was about to visit – some were Gentile cities. Those He sent were to represent Him and find those who wanted to hear more.
They were not there to offer religion. They were there to offer relationship.
That part may make sense. It is this part about healing and preaching!
Listen to another passage where Jesus gave similar instructions to the 12 when He sent them out.
“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves….
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
– Matthew 10:1, 7-8, 16, 38-39 NIV
You may be thinking: that didn’t help! That made things worse! Raise the dead?! Cleanse those with leprosy?! Drive out demons?!
This sounds so out there! This sounds impossible!
Let me take things up another notch. If you think that passage sounds impossible, listen to this other passage where Jesus refers to those of us in this room who follow Him:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
How in the world are we supposed to be able to do even greater things than Jesus did?!?!
Let’s simplify this passage like this:
Our mission is to meet the physical and spiritual needs of other people.
Right now, you have the opportunity to make an eternal impact in the lives of others by bringing healing to others. When we make the world a better place, we are bringing healing. When we restore something that had been discarded, we are bringing healing. When we develop meaningful relationships with the people with whom we work, we are bringing healing.
Whether you are a student, a stay-at-home parent, in the medical field, in education, in the non-profit sector, in retail, in sales, or in technology, you can bring relational healing among those with whom you work.
This means that your mission is not dependent on where you live.
Your mission is not even dependent on where you work or what you do at your work.
As we follow Jesus, He can certainly make where we live and where we work more clear.
Jesus sends us out into all sectors in our world to represent Him through our actions and through our words.
We can be a part of answering Jesus’ prayer when He prayed:
“Our Father in Heaven, your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
– Matthew 6:10
- If you have experienced hope from God, offer others hope through your words and your actions.
- If you have experienced the love of Jesus, offer others love through your words and your actions.
- If you have experienced the forgiveness of Jesus, offer them a life no longer filled with guilt or bitterness.
We can help others who are going through what we went through. That’s why so many who have freedom going through the 12 Steps find their calling helping others overcome hurts, hang ups, and addictions going through the 12 Steps.
Who we are now is a result of how we’ve responded to the good and bad experiences in our lives.
Wherever you go and wherever you are, if you follow Jesus you bring His light and His Kingdom with you. Just your presence because of His presence makes a difference!
Listen to what happens to the disciples as they return from their mission trip.
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
– Luke 10:17-18
Jesus says that the greatest miracle is not the demons being cast out. The greatest miracle is that we can have a relationship with God through Jesus because of His death on the cross and rising from the dead!
When we surrender our lives to Jesus, He heals us and His light shines through us! We have access to His power over darkness!
Think about this: Jesus and His disciples healed people physically, yet all of those who were healed have something in common. They all died!
We can help people find a healing that last beyond this lifetime – a relationship with God through Jesus! This is why Jesus says we can do even greater things! The Kingdom of Heaven is now here in part even as one day will be here fully!
The spiritual realm is real. You can watch the messages or read the notes from the Realm series at www.ericbryant.org. In our culture, evil reveals itself in more subtle but just as dangerous ways – dark thoughts and temptations that lead to evil actions.
Consider these common phrases though: Facing your demons, getting rid of your inner demons
Through Jesus we can face our demons and get rid of inner demons AND help others do the same!
Some of you are meeting real needs and doing really good things, but you have forgotten the spiritual healing that those around you need. It doesn’t have to be awkward.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
– 1 Peter 3:15