Summary: God has entrusted the fulfilling of His mission to us, while providing for us all we need in order to accomplish the mission. Will we accept the responsibility, be faithful to the task?
-Intro> I had just turned nine years old on that cold January morning in 1961, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was young, but I knew something truly significant was happening. Up until that day all the Presidents I was aware of had been my grandfather’s age. But in January of ’61, John F. Kennedy stood and took the oath of office, becoming the thirty-fifth President of the United States, and, having been raised in a politically-minded family, I was watching his speech. It was amazing, it was historic, it was challenging. Standing and looking at the crowd below and into the television cameras, speaking to all the citizens of the USA and the world, he declared: “Let the word go forth, from this day forward, to friends and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation!” He then proceeded to challenge how we thought about our country, ourselves, and our mission in life. “Ask not,” he said, “what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Revolutionary! It was a new direction, and we accepted the challenge, because the torch had been passed to us.
--On a much bigger stage, and with a much more important mission in mind, eleven disciples of Jesus and a crowd of other followers with them that day heard Jesus issue to them (and to us) a “torch message.” The torch was being passed from Jesus to His followers, and the followers had to decide (as we must decide today)...whether they would (will we) accept the responsibility.
--I invite you to open a Bible and turn again to Acts, chapter one.
--Last week, in the first message in this series of “Taking the First Steps,” we recognized that in order to get started right in 2008 we need to hear His command, see the need, and answer His call. Today I want us to understand how Jesus has equipped us to accomplish His mission once we’ve accepted the responsibility.
--Make no mistake about it, Jesus’ ascension into heaven and His torch-passing message had been planned even before the earth’s foundation.
---It didn’t happen before everything Jesus was sent to do had been finished...and the mission was now ready to move into a new chapter, a new era, a new direction, the church age.
<>LOOK AT WHAT JESUS DID IN EQUIPPING US FOR THE TASK HE HAS NOW ENTRUSTED TO US...
1) HE PRESENTED US WITH HIS EXAMPLE.
--Heb.4:15 -- “...(Jesus was) tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
--QUOTE: Gregory of Nazianzus, in A.D. 381, wrote these words: “He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life. He ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water. He was weary, yet He is our rest. He was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons. He wept, yet He wipes away our tears. He was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd. He died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.”
-->He clearly was the Son of God...but He was and is also the Son of Man...God who lived as one of us.
--ILL>A few years ago a popular song asked, “What if God was one of us?” Well, God became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ.
--ILL>Another song, one we sing around here a lot, explains it well, “He came from heaven to earth to show the way...”
--ILL>And we’ve all seen, and many of us have worn, bracelets with the initials, W.W.J.D. on them, meaning, “What Would Jesus Do?” It’s a great question, and an important question, because His example helps us know what He would have us to do.
--<>His life is our model, our pattern to follow.
---No true leader worth following will ever ask you to do something he/she is not willing to do himself/herself.
---->I’ll never ask you to come early and help unload the trailer, set up chairs and equipment, etc., if I’m not willing to do it also. Leave at 5:00 a.m. to go to Nogales on a mission trip?...Make Wednesday night “LIFE” Groups a part of your regular schedule?...Work with or drive a car in support of the Children’s Ministry?...Give 10% as a tithe?...Tell others about Jesus?...Invite people to come to church?...Give to missions?...I challenge you to do these things because I TOO am willing to do them. They are a part of my own commitment to the Lord, and what I believe He would have us to do.
--<>Jesus also never asks us to do anything He didn’t already model for us in His own life on earth.