This past Wednesday evening I finished up a three message series on caring for others. The first week was focused on the challenge from Jesus that His people will love one another. The second message was focused on the need to care for those in our community. The final message was about caring for those all over the face of the earth. In fact, this past Wednesday evening I taught from Matthew 9:35-38. Below are the main points that I made, followed by a question.
First Point - Jesus was concerned about the ministry of the Word AND ministry of mercy. I take this from verse 35, "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction." In this one verse we see His care for the gospel message. He always proclaimed the good news! However, we also see how Jesus cared for the physical needs of those who were sick and afflicted. I warned our people about exalting mercy ministries to a place where they took precedence over the gospel (since no one is saved without hearing the gospel proclaimed!), but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't engage in mercy ministries.
Second Point - Taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, and meeting needs where we are able, must be rooted in our compassion for them and for the glory of God. This was the motivation for Jesus according to verse 36, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." I asked our church that night about whether or not we had compassion for those around the world who were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus is the only Shepherd they need, but the people of God must let the crowds know this!
Third Point - The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. This is pretty clear. Jesus says in verses 37-38, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." There is much to be said here, but I wanted to drive home the fact that we are providentially located in Fort Myers, FL, and this verse fits our present circumstances in unbelievable ways. However, we also know that we want to get the gospel to those who have no access to the gospel. In other words, we want to reach Fort Myers (and SWFL) with the gospel, but we also want to reach to the ends of the earth where the gospel is not yet proclaimed.
In our present condition as a church, we are able to see this truth plainly. Right now our church is in great transition. We are seeking ways to minister to those around us. We are seeking ways to get the gospel into our community. From the statistics that I've heard, over 93% of Lee County do not attend any sort of worship service. When I see this area I realize the harvest is plentiful. However, as a faith family, we also realize our laborers are few. Seeing how we are in a transition time we know many of our people are unable to do things they once could. Their bodies have aged, and they are now limited. Do not misunderstand me, my people are ready to do what they can in their limitations! I am a blessed pastor. But the reality is here. We not only see the harvest, but we see the lack of laborers.
I told our people last Wednesday that we do not have the right to look out at our opportunities, with a heart of compassion, realize our laborers are few, and decide to do nothing about it. No, we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. That is what we're doing now. We're praying to God that He would do two things with our faith family. The first thing is that He would raise up laborers for us. We want to see new laborers coming into our faith family. The second thing we are asking is that God would enable us to be those laborers as well. In other words, I do not want to simply pray that God gives usother laborers, but that wetoo will labor for those who need to hear the gospel.
Now to my question. With the need so great in SWFL for the gospel, would you pray about coming and being a part of this? We are praying that God would send out laborers. Would you pray and ask God if you're one to be sent here? Or to be sent here in order to be sent from here?