Missions - A Call For Help

Bible Book: Acts  16 : 6-10
Subject: Missions; Stewardship; God's Call
Introduction

A man was attempting to lift a large box into a truck in front of a Walmart store but the load was much too heavy for him to get the box up to the tailgate of his truck. He saw another man walking close by and yelled to him, "Sir, can you help me?"

The man glanced at the struggling gentleman and said, "Yes, I can help, but I will not," and he kept walking.

It is frustrating to have a need and know that someone easily could offer to help you only to find the person reluctant or truculent to give aid. When we look at a world suffering with hunger, homelessness, loneliness and lostness, we know that we have help we can give, but all too often we are reticent to do so.

Acts 16:6-10 - "6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them"

Today we see a man who was perfectly willing to listen to God’s call to help those in need. It all began during Paul’s second missionary journey, when tried to go northeast into Asia but the Holy Spirit stopped him. He followed the Spirit’s leadership and went the only other direction open to him, which was to toward Troas and the coastal area just east of Macedonia. It was there that Paul saw a vision while sleeping. In the vision he saw a man from Macedonia begging him to come over to Macedonia to offer help to those living there. Paul told his fellow travelers of the vision and struck out immediately for the land across the waters to the west. The results were phenomenal. Europe was evangelized, then England and then the new world - America. We who live in America owe a lot to Paul's willingness to listen and obey God's call.

I want to tell you that the call to "come over and help us" has not ceased coming from the throne of God to the listening ears of His followers. Many people still do not know Jesus Christ, stand in need of the most basic human needs and some have actually never heard the clear, simple message of faith in and salvation through Jesus. Today thousands of SBC missionaries and millions of people are asking us to come over and help them in the effort to continue the international missions effort. But, the call is not simply from the people, it is a call coming for the Lord. Charles Gabriel penned the words to Send The Light, writing:

"There's a call comes ringing over the restless waves,
Send the Light, Send the Light.
There are souls to rescue there are souls to save,
Send the Light, Send the Light!"

Someone may say, “I don’t hear that call.” Well, it may be that you are not tuned to God’s channel. Whether a radio or television, you must be tuned to the right channel to get the right message. The same is true with God. To hear His call, you must be in touch with the Holy Spirit. I want us to open our hearts today so we might hear the call coming over the “restless waves, Send the Light!”

I. How Can We Answer This Call

God’s is calling, but how do we answer? There are several ways to answer God’s call to take the message across the waves or across the street.

A. We Can Answer With Prayer

If you ask missionaries what they need most, they will almost always answer, “Prayer!” That is the first request of almost all those who share the Gospel. You can ask a preacher, a soul-winner or someone trying to share the Gospel with a friend, and you will get the answer, “Pray for me.”

I pastored a great, exciting, and growing church in metro-Atlanta some years ago. For 12 years I had the joy of watching God do amazing things there. I left that great church to become Vice President for Evangelization for the Georgia Baptist Convention. It was interesting to me that several members of the church, at different times, asked me this question, "What will you miss most about being our pastor?" My answer was easy and came to mind quickly: “I am going to miss the prayers of hundreds of our members who have prayed for me regularly over the past 12 years.”

Many people think little of prayer until a problem arises. Then they will call the preacher or ask Christian friends to pray. But, many of these same people spend little time in prayer for others. I want to challenge you to pray for those who are involved in sharing God’s love through ministry and the spoken Word of God. They need, and they desire, your prayers more than you know! Lift up missionaries to God and ask Him to encourage them, inspire them and enable them in the great work of sharing God's love and grace.

B. We Must Answer As His People

When God calls, He calls someone – a person. God is looking for people who will listen to His call and obey. Paul was listening to God and that is why he heard the call. So often we are allowing the world or our own desires to block out the voice of God. Someone listening to me right now is being called to go across the street or go across the world to share God’s love, open your heart to the Lord and obey His call.

Some people hear the call but deny it. I was called to preach as a young boy. I ran from that call till I was 23 years old. Thankfully, God did not give up on me. Finally, I surrendered to His call, and it was the greatest decision I could have made. For more than 50 years I have been preaching God’s Word, ministering to God's people, and sharing God's salvation with people. I would never want to go back and do anything else with my life. In the early days, the way was difficult, the funds sparse, and the road seemed uphill, but God never failed to meet my needs and guide me. What joy He has given me in His service. I come now to these latter years of life with the peace of knowing that, though I have failed Him at times, I have traveled the path God set for my life. I shutter to think what it would be like today if I sat looking back on my life realizing I had failed to fulfill my God-given destiny. Trust me, I have talked to numerous people through the years who told me that God called them and they ran from the call or put off the decision to obey. What sadness they conveyed to me. One man who had become a business man and a great success financially sat in front of me and wept as he shared how he had failed to follow God's call early in his life. He knew that there was no way he could go back and do what he was supposed to have done. I have never forgotten that man and the sadness I felt as I prayed with him that about his missed opportunity. If God is calling you into fulltime, vocational ministry, don’t run from that call.

Most of us are not called to be vocational ministers or missionaries, but all of us are called to take up our cross and follow our Lord. God is calling all of us to witness to the lost, to care for the hurting, to clothe the naked, to visit those in prison, and to feed those who are hungry. Jesus often said, as He taught, “Those that have ears, let them hear.” If your heart is really open to God, you will hear Him call you to places of service.

C. We Should Answer With Our Possessions

A poor man lay in the street begging. A church member walked by that the beggar recognized. "Sir, would you give me 50 cents?" The man said, "No."

"Would you give me 25 cents?" the beggar asked.

"No," the church member replied.

"Would you give me a dime?" he begged.

Once again the minister replied, "No.”

"Would you pray for me?"

"Yes," was the church member's reply.

"Well, don't pray for me, because if your prayers were worth a dime you would not have even given that for me."

If we claim that we are praying, let us be sure we are giving as well, or our prayers will not be worth a dime.

All of us cannot go, but all of us can give. Giving so that others can go does not relieve us of our responsibility to share God’s salvation and love personally, but it does enable some people to go where we cannot go. Giving to missions makes us participants with those who are called to go where we cannot go. In eternity, God will reveal what our gifts have meant to His kingdom. By giving, we are laying up treasure in heaven as Jesus instructed us.

II. Why Should We Answer This Call

We should always answer God’s calls in our lives and there are reasons that we should.

A. We Should Answer Because Of Gratitude

Just think of how blessed we are in America. We are the envy of the world. People violate the law everyday attempting to get into America. Just think, if Paul had not been listening to God, the people is Asia might be coming over to witness to us in America today. In fact, we are becoming so pagan in this country today, some missionaries are being sent to America. While God’s hand is still on our nation, and on our churches, we must respond to His call to pray, give and go as an expression of gratitude for the blessings we have.

B. We Should Answer Because Of Urgency

The world population explosion is well known to everyone. As millions of people are born outside the areas where the gospel is preached, it is even more important for us to go and to send people out into this world with God’s message of love and salvation. Today Asian population is equal to that of the entire world just 45 years ago. Only 1% of Asia is Christian. That means that there are almost an equal number of people in Asia who are lost right now as constituted the entire world's population about 5 decades ago. The hour is getting late, we must act now. You can add to this fact that so many are lost in every region of the world, including our own state and our nation. We must go because of the urgency!

C. We Should Answer Because Of Necessity

If you added all the gifts that Southern Baptists give to missions in a year, it constitutes but a couple of cents per each lost soul on this earth. We simply must do more, pray more and give more to reach our world with the gospel of Christ. Besides, who else will do this job if we do not do it! We are God's people. If we do not give to help reach the world, no one will do it. It is necessary for us to give, if we are to reach this world with the gospel of our Lord.

III. Who May Answer This Call

A. Those Who Hear Can Answer

Nothing so energizes us as a call for help. Imagine if you were in your front yard and heard a one of your family members cry for help. You would drop everything and rush to the scene. If you heard a neighbor cry for help, you would do the same. But, there are people crying for help and you cannot hear them. You can only hear them if you will hear from God. We must open our hearts and our ears to hear God’s call. You will never respond just because you hear my plea. You will seldom respond if you hear a missionary plea. But, a true Christian will respond when he or she hears God’s call. Paul heard God calling and he answered immediately! Let us do the same.

B. Those Who Have Can Answer

Only those who have something to give can give. If you have Christ in your heart, you have a testimony and witness to give. If you possess something of worth, you have something to give. If you have a prayer life, you can pray. Those who have are able to do what God asks you to do. And, God never asks you to do more than He will enable you to do. If He is calling to you, you can never say, "Lord, I just can't do that." He will not ask you to do what He is unwilling to enable you to do.

When I finally answered God's call to be a preacher of the gospel, as I said earlier, I was 23 years old. I was married and had a daughter. I had just bought a home and had a great job. My first instinct was to tell the Lord that I would just commit myself to serve Him more fully in the local church. But God pressed my heart with His will for me to serve Him as a full time, vocational pastor. I left my job, went to college and doors began to open immediately. Within weeks after my surrender, God opened the door for me to be an interim pastor. In less than 1 1/2 years, I was pastor of a small church that I pastored during my college years. Throughout the following 40 years, God has never failed to provide what I knew I did not personally possess. We cannot offer God excuses when He calls.

God called Moses to go to Egypt and face the Pharaoh with a demand that the Pharaoh let the Hebrew children go free. Moses pointed out that he did not have the gifts for that mission. After all, Moses was slow of speech and could not speak well. God did not want to hear Moses share an excuse. The duty of Moses was to obey and the power of God would supply the ability, and God did just that!

I wish I had time today to tell you of the people I have seen surrender to God in obedience and have lived to see God do incredible things in their lives. Whether it was a call to serve Him in the local church, go to the mission field or preach the gospel, the Lord has never failed those whom He called. Obey, and watch God do that which you cannot imagine or think!

C. Those Who Care Can Answer

Paul could have been concerned with himself and he could have been upset because he didn’t get to go east as he had planned. He could have complained, "I was faithful and traveled in the direction I thought was best, but God wasn't satisfied. I'm just going to go home and let someone do this work." But Paul was humble and willing to follow God's will at any cost. God interrupted Paul's plans, and how wonderful that Paul was not selfish. He was ready to put his plans aside and obey God. That is what God requires of us. And, those who care will drop what they are doing and do what God is asking. Paul cared about what God cared about. Those who serve faithfully will be required to care about the people, the plans and purposes that are important to God.

Conclusion

During WWII Winston Churchill received word from British Coal miners stating that they wanted to be sent to the front lines in the war because they felt that they were doing so little for the war effort. Churchill knew how essential the work of the miners was to the war effort. He went to the mines to address them. They came in great numbers to hear him. He told them of the importance of what they were doing and then he said something like this. "They tell us he (the enemy - Hitler) is coming. He is coming with 100,000 men by sea, 100,000 men by land, and 100,000 men by air. But we will crush him. We will defeat him and our country will one day return to the peace and prosperity of former days. Then I shall walk down the streets of London and I shall ask a veteran, 'Where were you in Britain’s finest hour,'? He will reply, 'I was in a foxhole with my rifle in my hand defending the shores of beloved England.' Then I will ask the wife and mother and she will say, 'I was in the hospital caring for the wounded and sick of my beloved England'. Then I shall ask one of you coal miners and you will reply, 'I was down in the coal mine with my face against the face of the coal digging out the much needed resource for my beloved England'." The miners went back to work and England won the war.

We are not all called to do the same thing, but we are called to do God's will. Some of us must get up in the morning and go back to the coal mines of service for God. We may not feel our work is as important as someone else. But, we must dig out the resources to be sent in the aide our missionaries needs. We must spend time in prayer and, yes, share a witness here at home. Then one day when we meet our Lord, He will ask where we were in the church’s finest hour of missions and we will say, "We were down in the coal mines digging out the coal and giving our best for our beloved Savior". May it be so!

We know How to answer, Why we should answer and Who can answer, now the question is, "Who will answer God's call?" I know without a doubt that God is calling us to greater obedience today. Just as Paul was required to alter his course of action, often God calls us to do the same. Someone here today is hearing a call from God to embrace Jesus as your Savior. You may be a good person, and even a religious person, but you have never surrendered your life to Jesus. Confess today that you are a sinner, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and come to Him today. You will not be coming on your own. You will come to Him because He is calling you to salvation!

Someone hear today is hearing God call you to greater service in His name. You can pray more effectively, give more faithfully and share your faith more willingly. This is the day to make a new commitment to be the person God is calling you to be. Perhaps you have a friend, co-worker or relative in mind today. You know that you should share your faith with that person but you have been reluctant. Make a commitment today to do what God is calling you to do. No, you do not have all the answers and you probably feel a lack of ability to do what He is calling you to do. Obey. Obey. Just do what He is asking and allow Him to make you able to do it.

And, there is someone here whom God is calling to full time, vocational service. You may not understand all He is calling you to do, but you have been aware for sometime that you have destiny to serve God with your vocational life. You are frightened by the prospects of stepping out to make this known to others. Trust me, all of us who have answered that call have felt what you are feeling. Obey. Obey. Obey. Just obey Him. He will prove Himself faithful to you from the moment you answer His call.