(This Day’s Thought is pleased to bring you Eric Elder’s new sermon series, “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind.”)
Holding The Rope
Lesson 23 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
When William Carey was raising funds in England to support his missionary work in India, he told people he felt as if there was a man drowning in a well and calling out for help. Carey said he was willing to go down into the well to save the man, but he needed some people to hold the rope for him while he went.
Several men volunteered to help Carey in his work, “holding the rope” for him back home, raising funds and praying so he could do the part God had called him to do.
While the way people do missions has varied throughout the years, the idea of “goers” and “senders” has not. God continues to call people to go and preach His message to people throughout the world, and He continues to call others to help send people on their way.
The Apostle Paul talked about this idea in his letter to the Christians in Rome, written almost 2,000 years ago. Paul wrote:
“…for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15).
In the past, these verses have conjured up in my mind a vision of missionaries climbing over the top of a mountain in some remote jungle, bringing the good news of Christ to the people in the valley below. As the villagers would hear this good news being proclaimed to them—news that they had been longing to hear for years—they would exclaim, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Today I read that passage with a different vision in mind. Why? Because, in many ways, I’m now a missionary myself, writing to people all over the world to encourage them to put their faith in Christ for everything in their lives. The scenery has changed, but the principle is the same.
Instead of climbing a misty mountaintop, I’m sitting at my desk in my bedroom, looking out over miles and miles of wide open spaces. I’m on the second floor of a two-story, traditional American farmhouse in the heart of the great midwest. There are no mountains to block my view, and only a few other farmhouses dotting the ground in the distance. The corn and soybean fields have been harvested for the year, so all that’s left is a clear view of the horizon in every direction.
Yet when I push the “send” button on my computer, I realize that this message I’m writing will make its way over the plains, across the country, under oceans, into the sky and back down to the earth again.
Within an a instant, this message will show up in places like Papua New Guinea, an island half-way around the world in the South Pacific, where someone just signed up to receive these messages on Monday, saying,
“I will be very much excited to receive the news & also pray to strengthen each others faith.”
Almost simultaneously, this message will also show up in an inbox in Nigeria, a country in western Africa where someone wrote to me last week saying,
“I have been far from God. Most times I start and end my day without praising or praying to God. My bible is always beside me and most times I don’t open it. How do I strengthen my walk with God, how do I make him priority, and how do I become consistent with my maker???? Please advise me on what steps to take.”
At the same time, it will appear on someone’s cell phone in the UK, where a woman wrote to me this week saying,
“You are so right about thinking of Jesus as a saviour and sometimes not having Him as Lord of our lives too. Today’s reading made me take stock of what you said, and I recommitted and surrendered my life afresh and asked Jesus to be Lord of my life also as well as being my saviour.”
Missions is changing, but the message stays the same. When Jesus told His disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation,” (Mark 16:15) He didn’t put any limits on where to go, how to go, or who to go to. He just said to, “Go!” He wanted them to take the message as far as they could, starting in Jerusalem, spreading out to Judea and finally to the ends of the earth.
As we’ve been looking at the book of Romans for ways to renew our minds, I want to remind you that the goal of a renewed mind is not simply to renew your thinking but to renew your actions, too. Jumping into God’s plan regarding missions is one of those actions that God wants you to take, whether it’s as a goer or a sender or both. God wants you to be one of those people about whom it is said: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
For some of you, this may be a reminder of what God has already called you to do. For others of you this may be a confirmation of what God has been stirring in your heart in recent weeks or months. And for some of you, this may be a totally new thought—a totally new direction that God wants you to take in your life. Whatever the case, I want to encourage each of you to get involved in whatever mission God has put in front of you.
I was privileged to see an evangelist this fall named Reinhard Bonnke, as he was speaking at a youth conference in Chicago. He’s ministered to millions on the African continent, with crowds so large that in just one meeting, his team saw over 1 million people fill out decision cards to put their faith in Christ.
Yet, at age 71, he recently got onto FaceBook. At first, he wasn’t sure he was interested. But when someone showed him a demonstration of how it worked, the connections he could make with people around the world and the ease with which he could get a message out, it dawned on him. He looked at the screen and said, “It’s a pulpit!”
Now he personally posts several short thoughts each day on Facebook. Over 381,000 have “liked” his page and several hundred people now comment and interact with him and his ideas on a daily basis. His mission is the same as it’s been his whole life, it’s just taken on a whole new dimension!
A few years ago I read a conversation between David Yongii Cho, the pastor of the largest church in the world—located in Seoul, Korea—and Rick Warren, the pastor of one of the largest churches in America. As they were talking about their next steps for future growth, they both pointed to the same thing: the Internet. Pastor Cho, who had over 750,000 members in his congregation at that time, said “we are so jammed that we have no way to keep growing except by going into cyberspace!”
Pastor Warren responded, saying, “No matter how much land you have it eventually fills up. We were running over 10,000 in attendance before we built our first building. So we know how to grow and minister without buildings. But what we are trying to learn now is how to do it through the Internet into the homes.”
Now, several years later, both churches now have strong and vibrant Internet ministries, providing spiritual support and encouragement to members in home groups around the world.
As the world grows, God wants to use every means possible to reach as many as possible before the end comes. Considering that the world has added another billion people in the last twelve years, and is expected to add another billion in the next ten to twenty years, it’s no surprise that God is using all kinds of new technologies to reach more people in an instant than ever before.
Amazingly, you don’t have to be a famous evangelist or the pastor of a huge church to have an impact on people all over the globe. I’m surprised some days to think of just how many people I reach from my little bedroom office here in central Illinois. To put it in perspective, consider that Reinhard Bonnke once had a tent built for his crusades in Africa that could hold 34,000 people. It was the largest tent ever built in the world.
Yet when I finish writing this message tonight and push the “send” button, God will take these words and send them out to more than 35,000 people in more than 160 countries who have signed up for these messages over the years—that’s more people than can fit in the world’s largest tent! That’s amazing!
It’s more possible today than ever before to fulfill Jesus’ command to “Go into all world and preach the gospel to all creation.” And if you’re a follower of Christ, God wants you to be part of the process.
Whether you’re a goer, a sender, or both, God wants you to be involved in His mission. God doesn’t just want to renew your mind—He wants to put your faith into action. As the Apostle James said:
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).
Let me encourage you to get involved with God’s mission, whether it’s going, or sending, or both. Try starting a spiritual conversation with a friend on FaceBook. Look into missions trips with your church or with other groups who are taking the gospel to others. Consider supporting a missionary or two or three or more with your prayers and financial gifts.
Without trying to sound self-serving, I’d love to have your help with our ministry as well! We’ve been richly blessed over the years to have many people come alongside us and support our work so that we can do the part God has called us to do: encouraging as many people as possible to put their faith in Christ for everything in their lives. In many ways, I feel like William Carey as he was going off to India. I’m willing to go down into the well to save as many as I can, but I need some rope-holders to help me as I go.
If you’d like to help “hold the rope” for us, I’ve posted a video on YouTube that will give you an update on our ministry and an idea of what goes on behind-the-scenes. I think you’ll enjoy the update, whether you decide to get involved in our work or not.
But whatever God puts on your heart to do, let me encourage you to do it. When you do, people will say of you:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15b).
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for making it more possible than ever before to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Show us how we can be involved in Your mission in the world, today and in the days ahead, and give us the faith to do what You’ve called us to do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. Whether you’re able to help with our mission here at The Ranch website or not, I’d still love for you to watch the update on our ministry that I’ve posted on YouTube. I pray it will encourage you to step out and do whatever God is calling you to do in the world. I also ask that you would keep us and our ministry in your prayers. We’re currently trying to increase the number of monthly donors to our ministry to help keep us going strong in the upcoming year. If you would be willing to send a monthly gift to our ministry, or even a one-time donation by the end of this year, that would help us greatly. In appreciation of gift of any size, I’d be glad to send you your choice of one of the books from our giftshop as our way of saying thanks. Just use the links below to watch the video or to make a donation.
To watch the YouTube update on our ministry, click here:
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Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 10:13-21. In verses 13-15, what steps does Paul say are involved for someone to put their faith in Christ?
2. If you’ve already put your faith in Christ, can you see how each of those steps might have been involved in your own decision-making? If you haven’t yet put your faith in Christ, which step do you think might be needed next?
3. What steps could you take in your life right now to get more involved with God’s mission in the world?
4. Read Philippians 4:19. Ask God to give you the faith, strength and resources to be involved in His global mission in ways that go beyond whatever you’ve done so far.
To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
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