Summary: A message for our Missions Sunday.

Let’s start the message this morning with a short quiz. On your sermon outline, I’ve given you space to write a definition of missionary. So take a minute or so to write down your definition. Just jot down what comes to mind.

[Give time for people to write down their definitions]

When I looked up that word this week in several different dictionaries I obviously found many different definitions, but since I like to keep it simple, this simple definition seems to me to work best for our purposes this morning:

one who is sent on a mission

Now let me ask you a second question. Based on that definition, how many of you here this morning are missionaries? [Let people answer].

If we’re honest, most of us probably don’t think of ourselves in those terms. We tend to think that term is reserved for those like the ones we’ll be hearing from a little later who belong to a mission organization and who usually go to some remote part of the world to share the good news of Jesus. But just as we saw that every Christ follower is a minister when we studied the ministry of Jesus, this morning we’ll see that every Christ follower is also called to be a missionary as well.

This morning, as we continue our study of the Psalms, we’ll look at Psalm 67, which is a great Psalm that provides us with some practical guidance about what it means to be a missionary. Before I read that Psalm, let me give you a little bit of background.

In the Hebrew, the Psalm, excluding the superscription, consists of exactly 49 words that break down like this:

• Verse 1 – 7 words

• Verse 2 – 6 words

• Verse 3 – 6 words

• Verse 4 – 11 words

• Verse 5 – 6 words

• Verse 6 – 6 words

• Verse 7 – 7 words

That pattern will also help us to identify an important structural component that we’ll be able to observe even in our English translation.

Many Jews associate these 49 words with the 49 days between the Passover Feast and the Feast of Weeks, which we know more commonly by its Greek name, Pentecost. It is significant that the Jews have traditionally sung this Psalm in connection with that feast because it was during that feast that the events recorded in Acts 2 took place and the Holy Spirit came upon all who were gathered, which enabled those Christ followers to be able to share the gospel of Jesus with all the various people groups that were gathered there that day.

With that in mind, we are now ready to read Psalm 67. Normally I’d ask you to take out your Bibles in order to read the passage, but I’m going to ask today that you use what I’ve printed in the sermon outline. You’ll notice that I’ve printed this in an unusual format with some extra lines in there. I’ll explain the reason for all that in a moment, but before I do that, let’s go ahead and read the passage out loud together this morning:

May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;

God, our God, shall bless us.

God shall bless us;

let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Psalm 67:1-7 (ESV)

I’ve provided the formatting and the lines in order to point out a structure which is also suggested by the pattern of the 49 Hebrew words that we looked at earlier. In technical terms this form is known as a chiasm. In this form, verses 1 and 7 contain parallel thoughts, verses 2 and 6 contain parallel thoughts and verses 3 and 5 are exactly the same.

The purpose of such a structure is to emphasize the middle verse – in this case verse 4:

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

As we’ll see as we examine this Psalm, that is God’s ultimate desire for all the peoples of the earth – that they would be glad and sing for joy as they experience His rule in their lives, a rule that is just and provides them with the guidance they need as they live upon the earth. The rest of the Psalm lays out God’s plan for how that is to be accomplished. In effect it is His plan for missions.

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