Releasing Into Ministry

Releasing Into Ministry

Scripture: Romans 10:15
Date: 06/02/2012  Lesson: 9
"It is not enough that people be trained for evangelism and witnessing work they must actively work for souls."
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. We are so glad that you are tuning in and joining us like you do every week from across the country and around the world. We have had a wonderful week here in Sacramento and we are ready to sing some songs with you. So we encourage you to pull out your hymnals whether you're listening on the radio, watching live on our website at 'saccentral.org', or on the various television networks, you are a part of our family and we are going to sing #461 - 'be still my soul' - I love this song. This is from richard and natalie in Alaska, monica and margaret in australia, jasmine, veronica, and angel in the bahamas, pedro in barbados, leon and betty in California, lapidolph in Canada, jeffrey in Colorado, caroline and hezron in india, donnette and janene in jamaica, rhea in the maldives, art in Maryland, magalie and micha in mauritius, renee in Michigan, Philip and uchenwa in nigeria, jorge, sue Ellen, josh, Sarah, sandie, vern, jamie, jenny, and jared in North Carolina, mr.

Jan in norway, yusuph in tanzania, sigorney in us virgin islands and Samuel in Virginia. All three stanzas - 'be still my soul'. Be still my soul. That is from finlandia, which is a classical piece and it's this big piece and then it goes right into this beautiful piece that they put words to - be still my soul. Look that up on youtube or listen to it in itunes, it is a beautiful piece.

If you have a favorite that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming program, it is so simple. Join us with your favorite songs at 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in your favorite hymn requests. Our next one - #93 - 'all things bright and beautiful' is from nicholas, rebecca, cathy, harley, trudy, nathalie, and cindy in australia - also regina, lindsay, and cathy and the family, and then ameidi, abelino, valencia, wilbert, and alciro in belize, elias in California, chloee in Canada, maisie, karl, janice, and aurelie in France, robert and glenda in Georgia, alex in hungary, hezron in india, adiani in jamaica, stainless and victor in nigeria, marlyn in norway, sherwood in the Philippines, pascal and martina in switzerland, michelle, eugene, and greg in thailand, and azad, polly, eunice, and consuelo in trinidad and tobago. We're going to sing the first, third, and fifth stanzas - #93. Father in Heaven we thank you so much for being all wise and wonderful and we do live in a beautiful world, even though it is a sinful world.

You have still given us things to remind us of your love, your purity, your goodness, and your strength. We thank you so much for giving us this beautiful Sabbath - we can worship you and praise you with our hearts this morning. Come and live inside of us and be with us as we open up your word and we study together. In Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson study is going to be brought to us - oh, there he is - by Pastor Doug Batchelor, our senior pastor here at central church.

Amen. Sounded like debbie had doubts for a minute. Morning friends. I want to welcome our Sabbath school class here at central church in Sacramento and want to welcome our extended class. Always a thrill for me to hear all of the different names that are called out of people who are requesting The Songs from hither and yon and just reminds us that we have a lot of people - part of the class - all over the world and many of you who are watching are actually members of this church.

One of the special things that Sacramento central does is we try to help be of service to people who are isolated around the world - there's no local church they can attend. They may be watching these programs through the internet or through a satellite - they're seventh day adventists and they want to connect with a church. Well, we have a way where you can connect and be a member here at central. If you're in that category and you'd like to know more about it, you can go to 'saccentral.org'. We take people through the regular baptismal vows - we're trusting maybe you already are baptized - if not, we'll talk to you about that process.

But we want you to be connected with the family. Just go to 'saccentral.org' and ask 'how do I become part of the church? There's no local church I can attend.' We'll try and equip you to know how you can maybe start a church in your community. Maybe you're living in a dark county or country or somewhere. And in keeping with that, our lesson that we're going to be studying today - we've been in for this quarter - is 'evangelism and witnessing' and we're especially talking about ways to empower every member - not just the pastors and the evangelists - but we'd like to empower every member to do something in soul winning. And so, for the last couple of weeks we've been telling you about a resource we're making available along with our free offer for today.

If you'd like to know more about 'what can I do in getting Bible studies or dvds or something where I can go door to door and give out materials - get involved in personal witnessing.' Amazing Facts has printed a two-page flyer that has information on that, it's called 'evangelism and witnessing' and you just call that resource number and we'll send it to you. I think we sent one to every church in North America but we haven't sent them all around the world. Every church in North America should have one - you can ask your pastor or your church secretary. If you'd like your own, I think we have a few extras we'll mail out. Call the number - 866-study-more - 866-788-3966 and also, while you're at it, I forgot to mention the free offer it's called - oh, this is free too - it's called '12 steps to revival' - doesn't that sound relevant? Written by yours truly.

We'll send that to you - '12 steps to revival' and call that number on your screen. Ask for offer #780 when you do that. Now, having said that, we're about to dive into our lesson. Now our lesson today is dealing with the subject 'releasing into ministry' - releasing people into ministry. We've been talking about different aspects of witnessing and evangelism and we want to talk about 'how can we get people activated, mobilized, freed and released to get involved in ministry?' We have a memory verse and the memory verse is Romans 10, verse 15 - Romans 10, verse 15 - if you have your Bible it's in the new king James version.

We invite you to say that with me. Are you ready? Here we go, "and how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'" And so, actually, Paul here is quoting from Isaiah chapter 52, verse 7 where here he says, "how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good tidings" - what do 'good tidings' mean? Good tidings means good news. What's the word Gospel mean? It means good news. And it says, "how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those..." You know, when you travel from place to place, sometimes one of the easiest way to go across country is you follow the ridge tops. When you go across a mountain - I don't know if you've ever done a little hiking in the hills - when you're going across a hill you often run into the gullies and the ditches.

The safest place sometimes is going along the ridges and so it's almost those who have a picture of going as far and as fast as they can across the ridges who are proclaiming salvation. Now that's not just for pastors, that's everybody. I think it's interesting too that the Lord washed the disciples' feet. He mobilized them to prepare them to go across the mountains to preach good news. Any of you have gardens in your house or behind your house? You ever struggle with pests in your roses? What are the most common pests in the roses? Aphids - I'm talking on the leaves.

What's one of the ways to get rid of aphids? Ladybugs. Now, it's really interesting, you buy ladybugs and these ladybugs can then be released to fan out among the roses and whatever else - aphids eat more than just roses in the garden- to gobble up all those aphids. And you can buy living ladybugs and set them free to do what they naturally do. Now, when you get your little plastic bucket of ladybugs - you can order them. Sometimes you get them at a nursery - they'll have them.

They come in a little vial. You take them to the places - it looks like a little plague of ladybugs in a bucket. And they won't hurt you - you can dump them on your head and they won't hurt you, but they'll hurt aphids. They'll eat somewhere in the neighborhood - an adult ladybug - fifty aphids in a day and after a few days they can gobble up a whole - release a few hundred ladybugs and they can save your plants. And just before you release them you have a little pep talk with them and you talk to them about 'look, I'm letting you go to do what you do best' and then you have prayer with them and you lay hands on them and then you shake them over your roses and wherever else you're having problems and you have to - do they get discouraged doing their job? Or are they doing what they are naturally designed to do? The trick is you've got to know the right bug to release in your garden to eat the right pest.

You know there's a plague out there called star thistle. How many of you know about the star thistle infestation in California? Do you all know what star thistle is? Yeah. It's a thistle - it's not native to California - but they're a nuisance. When we first bought our property up in mendocino county - beautiful meadows - in the springtime they just have clover everywhere and then one well-meaning friend said, 'I've brought you some hay mulch for your garden and spread it on the garden and it turned out that there were star thistle in the hay. And first year I noticed a few things, I thought 'boy, I'd better pull that up because it's going to spread' and I didn't pull it up fast enough and it spread and now there are patches all over our property and it's just so discouraging.

It's great in springtime, but once that summer comes that stuff dries out - the places where it's taken hold - can't pull it up fast enough. But they've got a bug - and star thistle, you know, if you're walking through it it just stabs you - it's a thistle that's got these very sharp nail-like thorns. It's not like some thistle where you brush against it you're okay, it only hurts you if you grab it. Star thistle - riding by it, walking by it - it stabs you right through your pants and it's very uncomfortable. Horses can't eat it.

It makes good honey but it's hard to get rid of - you haven't got enough roundup to spray it. It's all over northern California. But they found a bug that likes to eat star thistle while it's - before it flowers - so when it still has its head, before it opens up and goes to seed, it drills in - this beetle - and it eats it. And the thing is they can't breed these beetles fast enough because everybody wants them to release in their fields because it will help bring down this infestation of star thistle. Well, you know, the Lord's got that problem.

The harvest of weeds is great, the beetles are few. The devil's got his evangelists out there and in order to kind of kill off the influence of sin in the world, the Lord needs more ladybugs and part of the problem in the church is the leadership in the church is not releasing and empowering and activating the members to do what they've got natural gifts to do and letting them do that gift of sharing the Gospel and doing evangelism. You know, if we're waiting for the pastors and evangelists to do it, it's never going to get done. That's why Amazing Facts and we've been talking to you about afcoe and all the different programs that are out there - there's a new one at southern college - the salt program. There's the life program - a new one in the pacific northwest.

Training laymen to do evangelism and win souls is so very important. All right, we want to talk about shared responsibility and at first I want to find out where some microphones are - we've got a verse I'm going to give out. Who has Matthew 7:17 - I think it's 17 and 18? We've got a hand right over here. You'll be next, just hold tight debbie, here. I'm going to read something.

You remember the story where Moses was bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt - the Lord did it but he was using Moses - to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt into the promised land and first Moses said, 'I'm not qualified I can't do it.' And the Lord said, 'look, if I called you I will qualify you.' And a lot of people are reluctant to work for the Lord because they're thinking, 'I don't have any gifts.' Did Moses know that he had the gift that he had? No, God said, 'you've got it. I'm telling you you've got it and you need to trust me.' Well Moses, then, once he began bringing the people from Egypt to the wilderness - you've got roughly two million slaves in the mixed multitude and they've got all kinds of problems. I mean, you just try to be the manager of a camp meeting with two million people and see what kind of issues come to you. And Moses is taking this, you know, this marauding group of escaped slaves through the wilderness and they're camping out and they've got their flocks that are all getting mixed up and all kinds of problems. And he's administrating and judging that from sunup until sundown - barely time to eat - sounds like Jesus when he took care of the people, it said he barely had time to eat.

Father-in-law comes to visit and he watches carefully what Moses is doing, he says, 'son, let's have a chat.' It's interesting that you'd have a little father to son talk and your son is over 80. And he gave him some advice - and you find this here in Exodus :21 - he said, "moreover you shall select from the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness" - find those that are honest, that are true, that have the fruits of the Spirit - "and place them over them" - the people - "to be rulers of thousands" - have the highest quality - the ones with more age and experience over the thousands - "some over hundreds" - those that are younger, a little less experienced but very bright and gifted - they'll be over hundreds - then "rulers of fifty" - then again, go down the scale - maybe a little younger but they're still gifted. They can be over fifties - "and rulers of ten." So you've got a growing group of these men who are leaders starting with tens and then fifties and then hundreds and then thousands - the youngest probably had the smallest groups - as they had more age and experience - is there some preference that should be given to people who have lived a little longer? Does the Bible say something about the elders? Elders aren't youngers. I remember at my church they wanted to make me an elder and I barely could grow a mustache - well I could actually grow a mustache but I was still pretty young. And, 'you know, we need someone to say prayer and be on the platform' and the Bible concept of an elder - and it comes from the word presbyteros - a church that is led by the elders - they were to be people who had some age and experience.

And I'm not saying that the Lord can't use young men to be ordained as elders, but I think it's gotten away from the Bible model that they have in the old testament, where they were to be people who maybe still had some energy and health and experience but they had a few years under them and they understood some of these things - that only life can teach you certain things, you know that? When you get a young pastor - do they typically take a young pastor right out of seminary and put him in a large city church with a thousand members? Where do you typically put a young pastor like that who's just getting ready to cut his teeth? Big church or little church? City church, country church? Typically - I'm just saying it's typically - they'll take them and put them on the churches in the suburbs or maybe more in the country and it's a little smaller church, where they can learn and they've got to get out there and learn. They're going to have to get up there and preach and make some mistakes and then a good, loving church - if you've got a good church they'll just - some of the elders - I was so blessed. First church I pastored I had four retired ministers and they were so good. You'd think that'd be a problem - that would intimidate you, but they were such loving Christian men that I'd make a mistake - they were very gentle, they didn't discourage me they encouraged me. They'd say, 'doug, let me give you advice.

You know, if you preach two hours you might wonder why everyone's going to sleep. And, you know, just a little thought that you might divide that into two weeks.' They were so gentle. And - but, you know, you have growing experience and ability. And he said, "let them" - I'm in verse 22 - "let them judge the people." In other words, 'Moses, you're wanting to judge everybody - you're wanting to do it all on your own. Let others - delegate - let go.

You can trust others to help you. You don't have to do it all yourself.' Some pastors and elders think - and deaconesses and others - they think they've got to wear themselves out like Martha and do it all themselves - of course Martha asked mary for help, didn't she? But you've got to engage and involve other people. And it just takes some trust to do that. Now we've - I had someone ready to read Matthew 7 - over here - Matthew 7, verse 17 and 18. "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit." All right, this is in our lesson under 'risking for success'. If you're recruiting people who are going to serve in a broadening responsibility in the church, how do you know who to recruit? Well, Jesus gives us some guidelines. How did Moses know how to pick the leaders of thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens? How did he know? Well, look and see that they've got the fruits of the Spirit. Did Paul give some guidelines on how to pick elders and deacons and bishops and so forth? He gave some guidelines, he said, 'look for these spiritual fruits in their lives, that there is a pattern of consistency, that they've demonstrated that they've got a relationship with the Lord and then let them go. And sometimes you've got to take people who are still young in the faith, they don't have all the experience, and give them an opportunity.

You've probably heard before, in the context of fishing, something called 'catch and release' - 'catch and release'. Now, you've also heard me say that we've got some property up in the mountains - we've had it for 35 years and one of my favorite things to do - we had a men's meeting last week at leoni meadows and I had to tell the men that were up there 'when I see that beautiful meadow down there below the lodge' - how many of you have been to leoni meadows? Let me see your hands. Okay, you all know what I'm talking about - there's a beautiful lodge and there's a great big meadow that's sort of at the center of everything. And when I look out at that meadow it is so pretty, but you know what goes through my mind? Bulldozer. Bulldozer.

I want to put in a pond. It is a perfect hollow for a pond. And, you know, when our church bought leoni meadows, the plan was to put a lake down there. They just ran into the typical California environmental problems and challenges and permits and they finally gave up. But I look at it and I think 'd-9' because I love to build ponds.

And I've put little ponds in around our place and then what I do - even though I'm a vegetarian - I stock it with fish. I've got a friend and he's got some bass - for one thing, if you put in a pond and you don't put in fish, what you've really done is you've created a mosquito hatchery and you've just got a place for mosquitos to breed. You've got to put some fish in there that will eat the mosquitos. And it's fun, you know, go out there, walk around, see the fish jump. And so I've got a friend - I caught some bass - I put a few bass in one pond and they began to multiply.

I put in another pond so I caught a few from there - my boys love to go out and catch fish - we catch them and then we throw them back in. But sometimes we catch them and we put them in a five-gallon bucket and we go throw them in another pond. Well, one thing we've learned is fish will get about as big as the pond you put them in. We've got all different size bass and the size of the bass is almost always dictated by how big the pond is. We've got one little bitty pond and the bass only get about that big - they never get any bigger than that.

We've got a bigger pond and they get bigger. And last year or two years ago I put in the biggest pond and I talked to a friend yesterday and said, 'oh, we've got to put some fish in there - they'll get big.' God often takes us from pond to pond in our lives - he gives you more responsibility and more trials because the bigger the pond you're in, the more you're going to grow and the more responsibility you have. And so, sometimes you've got to expand the responsibilities of the people in the church and they'll say, 'oh, Lord, I can't do that.' And God says, 'well maybe you can't right now but you know what, when you get dropped in that pond you're going to grow because you'll have a bigger area to swim and jump. And it's just a - it's something the Lord seems to take us through. I have one tree - planted it in rocky ground - and it was alive and I told myself I've either got to just cut that thing down and forget about it, or I've got to dig it up and put it somewhere where it's going to thrive.

So I took the backhoe and dug around it where I knew I'd get the ball of roots - I dug around it, I pruned it back - you prune it back a little bit they'll do better - and then I took it down the hill in the backhoe - just sitting in the bucket - I took it down the hill, stuck it, the same day, in a bigger hole surrounded by good soft earth, good ground, good irrigation and it's now taken off. It wasn't the tree's problem, it just wasn't in good ground. Sometimes you wonder, 'Lord, why are you moving me?' Well, you might need to be transplanted so you can bear more fruit. And sometimes you have to transplant - we may not always recognize a person's spiritual gifts and you'll say, 'let's take this person and we're going to put them in charge of music.' And then we find out they can't sing. And they don't really thrive - that's maybe not the best illustration but just take that.

And they'll think 'oh the Lord can't use me. I'm no good at this. I'm always off key and everyone stares at me.' But then you take that person and you say, 'can you teach children?' 'I've never - I can't teach children.' 'Try it.' Turn out to be the best Sabbath school teacher and then they go from one division to the next - pretty soon they're the Sabbath school superintendent and they just flourished when they finally found what their niche was. They thought it was singing and they had no idea they had gifts for teaching. Sometimes people have to get moved to different ground and then they flourish.

So you've got to give them a chance and - hey, you know there's a parable on that I meant to point you to - Luke 13:6, Luke 13:6 - turn in your Bibles and this is actually only found like this in Luke. There are similar parables, but I want to look at the one in Luke. Verse 6, Luke 13, "a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and he found none. And he said to the keeper of the vineyard, 'look, for three years I've come seeking fruit on this tree and I found none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?'" - It's just taking up space in the garden.

Maybe you could put some vegetables there - "and the keeper of the vineyard said, 'sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that cut it down.'" Some people, maybe they're in the right spot. Maybe they're the right tree. But they need the right resources.

They need the gifts of the Spirit and they need some encouragement and they need time. You notice in this parable what was going to make the difference in it finally bearing fruit. He said, 'I'll give it more water, I'll fertilize it, and give it more time.' You know, some people stumble and fall a few times but then they finally get it and then they run and they take off. The Bible tells us that a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again. So just because a person is released into some aspect of ministry or evangelism - some people, they knock on six doors trying to do colporteur work to sell a book and they have six doors slammed in their face and they say, 'I'm not called for this' and they quit.

And they never know - if they had gone to one more door they would have found out they had a gift for it. You just have to try. Sometimes you just need a little more time. A little more encouragement. Or, maybe they went to these doors and they made their - try to witness or start a Bible study - and all these doors slam and it wasn't that they weren't supposed to go to doors, they just were not prepared with the right talk and the right training - the right introduction to go to the door.

They should do the same thing but they needed a little bit of irrigation and fertilizer to have success. We've seen - like I said - at the afcoe program, some people said, 'I've tried going door to door and all the doors slammed - I never could get a Bible study.' And we said, 'here, try this training.' And then they go to two or three doors and all of a sudden they're getting Bible studies. They just needed to have the right tools and maybe the right training about what to say to engage and involve people and they flourish and they become great Bible workers. Sometimes just need a little more time. Sometimes they need relocation.

You want me to tell you one more thing about this parable? This is free - it's extra - it's extra free. Does it ever tell us in this parable whether or not the tree has fruit? It ends and you've got to fill in the blank yourself. Did you notice there's a time period in this? What does a fig tree sometimes represent in the Bible? Nation of Israel. Remember when Jesus cursed the fig tree because it was unfruitful? How many years are involved in this parable? I come looking for fruit three years and I don't find any, let's give it one more year - so a total of four years. If you do a day for a year, what is a Bible - what is a Bible year? Days to a Bible year, right? Because 42 months, 360 days - a Jewish year - is a lunar calendar.

Very interesting - when did the Lord plant the children of Israel in the promised land? Bc is when, you know, most historians believe that Joshua - they finally crossed over there. And if you add up four Bible years as 1,440 - 1,440 - if you go from 1406, when Joshua planted Israel, to 34 ad is 1440 - that would be four prophetic years. Did something happen in 34 ad? Isn't that interesting? All right, we're going back to our lesson. Someone read for me please Matthew 25:14 and 15. Mike, let's get you a microphone, right here.

"For the Kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability and immediately he went on a journey." Very good. So, the master - don't - stay right there with that microphone - poncho, come back. Stay right there with the microphone for a second. Thank you very much.

So when the master goes on this journey, he delivers to each one of the servants according to what? According to his own ability. So do different people have different ability? And the master understands that and he gives to the different ones these gifts according to their ability and he wants them to do what with those? He says, 'I want you to trade with it. I want you to multiply it. I want you to use it. You use it and what happens at the end of these parables? He gives them more.

'He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.' the Lord wants us to use what he's given us. You know, I just had a thought and I didn't give him any warning at all. Andres, why don't you come up here for a second? I want to introduce you to a friend. Poncho, bring the microphone up - give it to my buddy here. Thank you.

Hold the microphone up. Nice to see you all. Yeah, where are you from? Norway. Norway. It's andres, right? Andreas.

Andreas. Thank you. From norway. Now, you told me - I met him at the Amazing Facts offices last week and - you've not always been a seventh day adventist, right? No I haven't. I was thirty-six when I was baptized.

And you'd been a lutheran, I guess, most of your life? That's true. And what are you doing here in America right now? Oh, I wanted to translate the Amazing Facts study guides, which I have done. Translating the Amazing Facts study guides into norwegian, right? Right. Now, you're a professional pastor? No, I'm an engineer - retired one - because I want to work for the Lord. Isn't that wonderful? Here's a retired - now did Amazing Facts pay you to come to America? No, no, I did it on my own expenses.

This man flew from norway to America to translate the amazing facts study guides into norwegian - now does the church need a little help in norway? Pardon? Does the church need some help there in norway? Oh yes, of course. Yeah, it's very secular there. And so we're hoping that, through your using your gifts of translating these lessons into norwegian, that thousands will be studying the truth and come into the faith. Amen! Amen. I just - isn't that exciting, friends? I just want to introduce that.

Thank you very much andreas. Thank you. I just thought that was wonderful. I just saw him sitting here and I thought, 'well he's exhibit a of what we're talking about. He is not a pastor, he's been an engineer.

He learned the truth, he's so excited about it. He said, 'I want everyone else to learn this.' He flies from norway to America so he can work with us a week and get all the lessons translated. Yeah, that's a long trip - at his own expense. Isn't that something? I think that's inspiring. Everybody can do something, right? God's got gifts for you.

I bet when andreas was working as an engineer he didn't know that he'd be working as a translator for the Lord. He had that spiritual gift. All right, acts 6, verse 1 - acts 6, verse 1. Now somebody, just to get the next person set up, John 7:17 - who's got that verse? All right - we'll give you a hand right there - John 7:17 - just a moment. First I want to read acts 6:1 to 8.

"Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the hEllenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution." Let me just give you the background here. There was a bag for the poor and the poor widows were given a little something to help them buy bread every day, but they noticed that - and the disciples, the twelve apostles were really taking care of this to start with - there was a complaint that maybe preferential treatment was being shown to the Jewish widows as opposed to the Greek widows that had converted to Christianity - no! Was there discrimination in the early church right after pentecost? Well, we found out there was a little discrimination between the jews and the gentiles - you read about what Peter said, he said, 'they're unclean. I can't go to cornelius' house.' So they're saying they're being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve said, 'look, we're getting involved in these disputes. We're getting pulled aside from our work of preaching the Gospel, of praying, of studying the word.

' They said, 'we need to delegate.' "So the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and they said, 'it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men'" -look at the fruits of the Spirit - "'men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, who we might appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves'" - are there people in the church that need to take care of business? Does the church have business that needs to be done? There's stuff that needs to be done - it may not all be preacher-like stuff - it may not all be Bible study stuff. Sometimes it means you've got a deacon out in the parking lot to make sure that the teenagers aren't roaming out there. Just lots of stuff in the work of God.

"'That we might set over these things. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer'" - prayer's important work - "'and to the ministry of the word.' And this saying pleased the whole multitude and they chose" - and then it names the seven deacons that they chose - "and they set them before the apostles and they prayed" - and two of the deacons that stand out in history are stephen, of course, we named one of our boys after stephen, and then you've got nicholas. Nicholas started out good, but rumor is - it's sort of a tradition - that he later apostatized and started teaching heresy and he became the leader of the nicolatians that it speaks of in Revelation 'the thing which I hate' and so, that's one theory about him. Anyway, so these seven - seven deacons were chosen - "and they sat before the apostles, they prayed, they laid hands on them, and the Word of God spread and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem so that a great many, even of the priests, became obedient to the faith." What happened as a result of organizing? Sometimes you've got to appoint new people and you've got to hire new people - if you want an organization to grow, sometimes you're going to have to bring in more helpers. You've got to train.

You've got to delegate. And rightly organized and trained, the work of God spreads. That's a wonderful thing. All right, spiritual growth through ministry involvement. You're going to read for us John 17 - sorry, John 7, verse 17, please.

I think we're ready. Yes. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." You know, one of the ways that we can know when a person is called of God for some special office - how do you know? 'Lord, is there something you want me to do?' What's the biggest battle that you face in deciding maybe you're not using your spiritual gifts. How do you know? 'If any man is willing to do his will, he will know.' The biggest struggle we're going to face is are you willing to do God's will? If you say, 'Lord, here I am. If you want to use me I'm willing to be used.

You know, I prayed that prayer once. I haven't always been a pastor. I wasn't always an elder in the church. I started out saying, 'Lord, if you want to use me, I'm willing to be used.' And then someone said, 'doug, we need someone to help teach the junior Sabbath school class.' I said, 'praise the Lord!' So I started teaching the juniors and that involved, largely, just playing the guitar for The Song service. Then they said, 'would you like to teach the lesson this day?' And I actually taught them.

And I did that for awhile and then someone said, 'would you like to teach an adult class?' And so I said, 'praise the Lord!' I taught an adult class. And as God opened doors, I continued going through them. Finally a pastor said - I'll tell you who it was - he's the editor for 'signs of the times', marvin moore, and he was a pastor in midlothian Texas - or actually in alvarado - and he said, 'doug, I heard you did a Revelation seminar once, would you like to do an evangelistic series in midlothian?' I said, 'praise the Lord!' And so, you know, just - God opened doors. If you're willing to do his will he continues to expand those opportunities. It doesn't all happen in one day.

You get transplanted, you start learning, you bear more fruit. You know, they have people in the business world that get a lot of money and when corporations are looking for new top management staff - it's an interesting term they've got for these specialists, they're called head hunters. Have you ever heard this expression before? Normally that's not a good name. They're called head hunters. These are specialists that know how to comb through the ranks of corporate America and look for the most talented cfos and coos and ceos and different leaders.

And they look for these bouquets of gifts and they study them and they know how to evaluate what their gifts are and they get paid big bucks for finding the top quality people or folks who they think are ready to go to the next level in leadership. And they do all this research and evaluation and people pay them a lot of money to say, 'all right, we need a new cfo - financial officer - for this corporation. We need a new president. We need a new manager.' And they say, 'all right, based on what your needs are, we've looked at all the data and the evaluation and this person's got that bouquet of gifts. We think - here's your top three candidates for that position.

' Well, I think in the church we need some head hunters. Not the way we normally do it though. It kind of sounds strange that a vegetarian church would have headhunters, right? But we need to be looking, proactively, through the ranks and say, 'who are people that we think that could be brought in?' Now, this is a two-way street. I hear every now and then - I heard it again this last week, 'Pastor Doug, you know, I transferred to this new church and they're not asking me to do anything. And at my former church I taught and I was a leader, I was an elder, I did all these - I was a deacon - I did all this stuff and now I'm just sitting there from week to week - nobody wants my help.

I like the church but they don't ask me to do anything.' And I'm thinking, 'well, help them.' Not all the pastors and nominating committees and churches are omniscient. They may not know that you've got this interest or gifts. Sometimes if you want to be more involved you need to write a little letter to the pastor - the church office. Go up and shake his hand. Talk to the elder and say, 'look, in my former church I did all these things.

If you think I could be useful, let me know.' And so, sometimes you've got to remember that the leadership is not divine. You've got to let them know you've got an interest - that you have these different gifts and they'll put you to work. Amen? So that's part of the responsibility there too. Matthew 10, verse 5 - and you've got to release the people to do the work. Matthew 10, verse 5 - these are Jesus' words - red letter here - "these twelve Jesus sent out" - being the twelve apostles - "and he commanded them saying, 'do not go in the way of the gentiles and do not enter the city of the samaritans.

'" - First they were to go "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach" - now, why did Jesus restrict the territory of the disciples to start with? Well, first of all, the Gospel was not supposed to go to the gentiles yet. There was another three and a half years from the death of Jesus - three and a half years Christ taught in person - from his baptism to his death - three and a half years Jesus taught through the apostles - a total of seven years Jesus died in the midst of that week. At the stoning of stephen, which was in 34 ad, then the Gospel went everywhere. But he gave them a restricted territory.

And sometimes, when you are training someone, it's a good idea to say, 'you work this territory and it's a good place for you to learn what you need to learn.' So that's just good leadership there. "Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach saying, 'the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. Freely you've received, freely give." Now, do you think that Peter's first sermon that he gave was as good as the sermon he gave at pentecost? Probably not. He said, 'Lord, I'm a fisherman.

' He said, 'follow me and I'll teach you how to fish for men. Part of Peter's training process is they listened for a while - probably for the first year they listened to Jesus preach. Then Jesus said, 'okay now, how'd you like to try it? How many of you remember teaching your kids to do dishes? Is that a bittersweet experience? Isn't it nice when they get good at it and you can ask them everyday? Dishes. First few times you ask them to do dishes, give them tupperware. Don't give them the wedding china or it may be a little chipped.

You know what I'm talking about? Has it been frustrating for you when you pull dishes out of the cupboard and there's still dried food on them because the kids did the dishes the last time? And so, you say, 'I don't like eating off dishes like this, I'm never going to ask them again.' No, you've got to just put up with it. Scrape off that old spaghetti sauce, eat your dinner, teach them again, show them - or you know what I've done is sometimes the kids will do the dishes and I'll go pull out a bowl and there's still some old cereal or peanut butter stuck on the side of the bowl and I'll say, 'stephen, nathan, this is your bowl today. You get to eat out of that bowl because you washed the dishes.' That usually doesn't faze them. Then they're a little more careful next time, right? I said, 'this is your dish. See that dirty fork? That's your fork today.

' So, and what eventually happens - that's called training. Then they start getting particular. They don't just clean one side of the dish, they clean the inside and the outside. And they learn. They've got to do it and you've got to teach them, but it's sometimes difficult.

Sometimes when someone is learning they're going to make mistakes and they're going to fail. And you can't be discouraged. When Jesus sent out the apostles, did they cast out every devil that they tried to cast out? We have evidence in the Bible - one time they tried to cast out a devil - in Mark chapter 9 - and they prayed. Nothing happened, the boy was still devil possessed. They said, 'Lord, why couldn't we do it?' Jesus said, 'well, this type comes out only by prayer and fasting.

' And they needed a little more training. Not every sermon were there a lot of converts. And sometimes people asked them questions - when they gave Bible studies - they said, 'ah, good question. I've got to go ask Jesus about that one.' They didn't always have the answers. And I've studied the Bible with people and sometimes I say, 'let me study that more.

I don't understand that.' And so, but that's part of the learning process. You know, thomas edison said one time, 'he that is afraid to fail is afraid to succeed.' And part of becoming good at anything is making mistakes. And I'm sure those disciples, when they first went out teaching and preaching they made mistakes. Thomas edison, you know, he had his own invention factory and they had an incredible goal of having - I think it was every three months - they wanted to patent a new invention. And he had many employees and he had a warehouse full of materials and equipment and chemicals and he got a mandate from some corporate manufacturers and they said, 'we're doing more and more with this substance rubber now, but we've not found anything that is a solvent for rubber.

Thomas edison do you think you and your factory - and we're asking some other inventors - we've got to find a solvent for rubber. Well most of the other inventors - the other companies - they got out their formulas and their diagrams and they calculated all - what they could do with chemicals and what chemical would probably break down rubber based on what they understood about how its substance was formulated and its composition and its chemical formula. You know what thomas edison did? He got a bunch of strips of rubber and he went to his warehouse, which was formidable with chemicals - thousands and thousands of Marked jars with different chemicals in them and he put on some protective gloves and he went with these strips of rubber and he stuck the rubber in one chemical, he said, 'no, that didn't work.' And he went to another jar and he stuck it in there and he said, 'no, that didn't work.' And for weeks he went from jar to jar. He beat all the other companies because he just said, 'well, if you want to find out what works, you just' - he said, 'I found out 10,000 things that will not dissolve rubber, but I finally found one that will. And that was a very interesting approach.

And sometimes, you know, when you've got someone in the church and you've tried them in one area and they're not really flourishing you say, 'well, maybe that's not it.' But God has given them spiritual gifts. Try this, try that - and then finally you find out they're gregarious and friendly - they can't teach a lesson, but they can greet people at the door. Why didn't we think of that? They're so friendly. Everyone thinks we're the most loving church - put them at the door. So, you know, you've just got to sometimes say, 'where are their gifts?' And put people where their gifts are.

And many people have multiple gifts. To some he gave ten talents. Some got five talents. Some got two talents, right? Different people, but everybody got something. Everybody's got some gifts and God wants us to use the gifts that he gives us.

John chapter 4, verse 36, "he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that both he who sows and he who reaps might rejoice together." We're all working together in the same harvest, right? Do you know it takes different kinds of gifts to harvest corn than it does to harvest apples. I once worked picking oranges in southern California and - that's hard work, by the way, but you get up these tall ladders - at least that's how we did it back then, these triangular ladders and you've got to have decent balance or you're going to get hurt setting up those ladders and you're carrying a bag on your hip full of oranges. And they probably mechanized it now but I'm talking about years ago I did that. And then, if you're picking corn - I've done that too. You need all kinds of different coordination for picking corn.

Well, whether you're harvesting apples or whether you're harvesting corn, it's a whole different kind of gift that's needed for those different harvests. God has some kind of fruit or vegetable for you to harvest, right? And he wants all of us to be working with our gifts in those harvests. You know, I'm running out of time. One more story that comes to mind right here is in Daniel chapter 1. Even Nebuchadnezzar - we can learn from him.

When Nebuchadnezzar - I mean, if you've got someone who is a successful king of a world empire, you might learn something from him, right? Nebuchadnezzar was not only a formidable general, but he was a pretty good administrator. And one of the things he did is, when he conquered a country - like when he conquered Judea - it says, "the King instructed" - this is Daniel 1, verse 3 - Daniel 1, verse 3, "the King instructed ashpenaz, the master of the eunuchs to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the King's descendants" - so they've got good breeding - "and some of the nobles, young men in whom there is no blemish, good-looking, gifted in all wisdom" - typically we don't have the nominating committee judge people based on their pedigree and their looks - "possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had the ability to serve in the King's palace that they might teach them the language and the literature of the chaldeans. That the King then appointed them a daily provision" - we'll provide for them - "of the delicacies and the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the King." How long did the apostles work with Jesus before he cut them loose at pentecost? And he said, 'pick those who you know have these natural abilities.' You know, Jesus did not ordain his apostles the first day. He was out teaching and preaching and evaluating disciples and finally he prayed all night and he appointed twelve that he thought would have the ability to be apostles and to lead and to teach others. And you never would have guessed that these shepherds and tax collectors and fishermen would turn the world upside-down.

They had those gifts, the Lord saw that, and he had to develop those gifts. Well, I think the Lord has those gifts scattered among his people today and you may not find them all among the preachers and the evangelists or the seminary. I think you can find a lot of them among the ranks of the church and they need to be mobilized for evangelism. Amen? So we need to both - you need to tell us if you want to serve and then we need to let people serve. And working like that we can activate people more for evangelism and witnessing.

Time is about up. Don't forget, friends, we have a free offer you can send for. One is the book on revival '12 steps to revival' - we'll send you - and also evangelism witnessing resources. Just call the number -788-3966 on your screen. We'll send it to you.

God bless. Out of time. Study together again next week. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at 'amazingfacts.org'. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs including Amazing Facts presents.

One location. So many possibilities. 'Amazingfacts.org.'

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