by Dave Miller
Rush Rush Rush!
It seems that everyone is in a hurry. Where I am is not where I need to be, where I want to be is behind schedule. Hurry. Run. Fast. No time.
We see in Galatians and Acts, after Paul was called to Jesus and the Gentile apostleship he landed in Damascus with Anninias. After Paul’s baptism on the third day, he made his way to Arabia only to return to Damascus for a 3 year stay. Following Damascus Paul arrived in Jerusalem for a secret meeting with Peter and James for a couple weeks and then headed off to plant churches among the Gentiles in his home region of Cilicia… for 15 YEARS! Time in Syria and Cilicia didn’t make the Acts cut, except for the mention of a teaching ministry and a prayer meeting in Antioch. Only after, do we know the story of the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas.
Rumors of the one who persecuted the church now planting them had been shared among the early Judean church. Yet, the only contribution of the Judeans were false teachers requiring Gentiles to become Jewish in practice in order to be Christian in heart. We find that two of Paul’s most prominent leaders in the future movement, Barnabas and Titus, were relationships forged during these years. Relationships born from adversity tend to endure. Titus works with Paul till the very end training elders, teaching scripture, and strengthening churches. Barnabas ministers with John Mark on the island of Crete, for which Paul is later grateful and finds John Mark of great encouragement. Galatians was not an off the cuff thought on tackling the influence of Jewish law for salvation, it was a developed theology born out of years of repetition in advancing Gospel ground.
It sometimes amazes me how we think we should have #NoPlaceLeft in our local context in 2-3 years, when the Apostle Paul took 20+ years of chronicled ministry after seventeen years of unknown ministry in Syria and Cilicia. Sure the first journey took less than 18 months, but the skills, proclamation, and training were seventeen years in the making. Character development runs much slower than the message. The message does not have to slow down to forge character, it is more that the message must take root and produce heart fruit long after it has been planted. In fact, the abundant sowing of the message is integral to developing the character of the sower.
We enjoy the start. We celebrate the start. Engagements. Acceptance letters. First days. But it is the long game, where character is everything, that we see the kingdom established. Establishing the kingdom in no way requires the message to slow down. But hear me clearly, without the branches firmly established in the vine, the branches will be cut off and thrown into the fire to be burned. When the edges of the those receiving the message look for guidance on the well from which to drink, will we find foolish ones, or will we find abiding ones? You cannot teach what you have not known.
Abundant seed sowing is a product of abundant prayer rooted in the authority of God’s Word validated by the overflow of the Holy Spirit. One reaps what he sows. Don’t take my word for it, listen to the same Paul speaking to those in Galatia after his first missionary journey,
Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
- Galatians 6:7-9.
2020 will begin with a month of prayer and fasting for the nations among #NoPlaceLeft brothers and sisters. Sow to the Spirit with us so that we may all reap eternal life from the Spirit among every tribe, tongue, and nation!
Pray like the Apostle Paul teaches,
...brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Go slow to go fast. Speed comes from God’s love and Christ’s endurance.
Until there’s #NoPlaceLeft…