July 26

Today's Bible Readings
     Judges 9
     Acts 13
     Jeremiah 22
     Mark 8
''As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saulfor the work to which I have called them'." (Acts 13:2)
            It was in the church at Antioch of Syriathat the Holy Spirit touched and called, out of those faithful saints, Barnabas and Saul, to the work of missions. John Mark joined them and they set out on the first missionary journey. The work of the missionary is spreading the good news that God forgives sinners who trust in Christ. The first missionaries were sent out by their local church and were, undoubtedly, supported by it as they prayed together seeking  God's  will for  these ministries. The Apostle Paul and his associates endured extraordinary labors and poverty to give others the message. These were the first of the thousands since then who have answered the call of God for missions.
            Is God calling you to missions today? For the Great Commission so clearly given to the church as the last Will and Testament of our Lord, it is imperative that every believer face the following question: Has God called me to leave the comforts of familiar surroundings and affluent lifestyle to plant my life in a foreign place to share the life-changing Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people living in darkness?
            You will surely ask this question when you realize that missions is the heartbeat of God. It is not to be a single program of the local church, but the entire heartbeat and ministry of any local church serious about obeying the Great Commission.
They laughed at William Carey when he drew primitive maps of the lost humanity throughout the world, and prayed for the heathen. The established clergy ridiculed his famous sermon that challenged the church to take the Gospel to the heathen. The result was rope holding societies formed all over Englandto support a shoe cobbler who committed his life to take the Gospel to India. For seven years, he labored to translate the Scriptures without a single convert. In the process, he faced great opposition and persecution. But William Carey said, ''Attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God." Because of his call and response, we know him today as the father of modem missions. This kind of missionary call and commitment is illustrated well by C.T. Studdfrom England.Studdwas a famous cricket player and wealthy athlete. God called him to India and he went. His friends thought he had lost his mind and asked him why he could do it. He said, ''If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no price is too great to pay for Him." This is the call of the missionary. It is indeed the noblest call to be issued any person on the planet.
            The Republic of Tanzania in Africa now has more than 40 million inhabitants and is rapidly growing. This predominantly agricultural nation with a very poor economy has seen dramatic growth among the evangelical churches.  Now the Christian population is more than 50%. The greatest need of believers in Tanzania is to make leadership training a top priority.  We can add to that the urgent need for a clear vision for future ministry and growth in the church.
''Life is a long lesson in humility."
James M Barrie