As we continued our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at Eastbrook Church, I continued the themes of our series “The Good News of Jesus.” This second weekend, we explored four post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to Mary, the disciples as a group, Thomas, and Peter in John 20:11-21:25. Each of these stories gives us insight into the ways that the resurrection of Jesus intersects with our ordinary lives, in such things as grief, fear, doubt, and failure.
This week at Eastbrook Church we begin a new series entitled “Hungry for God.” Every human being has deep longings and hungers that propel us forward in life. We are hungry for love, hungry for belonging, hungry to leave a lasting legacy, and so much more. Where do those hungers come from and how can we fill them?
St. Augustine of Hippo famously wrote of God: “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.” In this series during Lent, we will explore the hungers of our souls, how God fills those deep hungers through Christ, and the ways in which we can lean into our hungers to experience life with God more fully and with greater satisfaction. Each week, there will be suggestions of specific spiritual practices of taking off certain things (fasting) and putting certain other things (replacing).
Along with the weekend messages, I want to invite you to join a 40-day devotional journey with us at Eastbrook. You can find out more about how to access that devotional in print or electronically here.
March 6 – “Hungry for God” [Journey to the Cross]
March 9/10 – “The Hunger for Love”
March 16/17 – “The Hunger for Greatness”
March 23/24 – “The Hunger for Joy”
March 30/31 – “The Hunger to Know”
April 6/7- “The Hunger for Peace”
April 13/14 – “The Hunger to Leave a Legacy” [Palm Sunday]
If we are going to move toward Revelation 7:9-10 as the church of Jesus Christ, then we must pursue growth as disciples – both through developing new disciples and going deeper in life as existing disciples.
If we are going to become a Revelation 7 type of church, then we must reach out as a church and as individuals through evangelism (word), community outreach (deed), and more.
But if we are going to do grow disciples and if we are going to reach out, then we have to also intentionally pursue multiplication as a church. Some may say, ‘but what’s biblical about all that?’ It sounds very programmatic and organizational.
Let me say this about “intentionality.” We are either intending to become something or we are sliding toward something. I would rather intend to become God’s best for us as a church than unintentionally slide toward something else.
Multiplying in ministry is actually one of the most biblical things we can do, so let’s turn back to the Bible to see how this concept plays out through the entire Scripture. Let me share some notes on multiplication from the lives of Moses, Jesus, and Paul.
Moses on Multiplication (Exodus 18)
- The man of God redeemed from his wrongs
- Birth (Exodus 2:1-14)
- Early errors and murder (Exodus 2:11-15)
- Purification in the desert (Exodus 2:16-25)
- Calling at the burning bush (Exodus 3-4)
- The work of God in the Exodus
- The challenge to God’s people (Exodus 5)
- The conflict with Pharaoh (Exodus 6-13)
- The deliverance (Exodus 13:17f)
- The Red Sea showdown (Exodus 14:5-31)
- Provision of Manna (Exodus 16)
- Defeat of Amalekites (Exodus 17)
- The Sinai revelation (Exodus 19)
- Advice from Jethro (Exodus 18)
- Moses is exhausted (18:1-12)
- Jethro’s advice (18:13-23)
- Moses’ change of approach (18:24-27)
- Capable men (18:25)
- Leaders of groupings (18:25)
- Task of leadership/shepherding (18:26)
- Moses’ change of role (18:26)
Jesus on Multiplication (Luke 5:1-11, 27-32; 6:12-16; 9:1-6; 10:1-20)
- Luke 5:1-11, 27-32 – Jesus calls the first disciples
- Luke 6:12-16 – Jesus chooses the 12 apostles
- Luke 9:1-6 – Jesus sends out the 12 apostles to do what he did
- Luke 10:1-20 – Jesus sends out 72 to do what the 12 did
Paul on Multiplication (Acts 20:4-5)
“He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas.” (Acts 20:4-5)
- Some we know nothing about: Pyrrhus; Secundus; Gaius; Trophimus
- Aristarchus (Col 4:10; Philemon 24)
- Tychicus (Col 4:7-9; Eph 6:21-22; Titus 3:12)
- Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25-30)
- Demas (Philemon 24)
- Titus (letter)
- Timothy (1 & 2 letter)
- Acts 16:1-5 – beginnings with Paul
- Acts 17:13-15 – teaching the faith
- Timothy writing with Paul (2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 & 2 Thess 1:1; Philemon)
- Timothy described by Paul (Philemon 2:19-24)
Paul talks about this in a specific way in his words to the young pastor, Timothy. Timothy was one of Paul’s young leaders who had accompanied him on much of his mission work and he is now a young pastor in the city of Ephesus.
“The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
The Multiplication Principle (2 Timothy 2:2)
Why we must multiply:
- If we are healthy disciples, we multiply disciples
- If we are healthy in our service, we multiply servants
- If we are healthy in our ministry, we multiply ministers
- Why?…our need (Moses)
- Why?…development of the other (Paul)
- Why?…the missions of the Master (Jesus)
When we must multiply:
- Right away!
- Share whatever God is teaching us with someone today
Who we must look for (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
So may we be a disciple-making church that is also a multiplying church. May we live toward the Revelation 7 vision of the church, which is also God’s dream for the church, where people from every tribe, tongue and nation are gathered around the throne of God.
Brown University issued a report in October that brought light to its institutional ties to the slave trade and its efforts to move away from that through memorial and social justice efforts. While it is not unusual for organizations, including universities, to step away from socially unacceptable issues in the present, this is a new move on the part of universities to recognize past wrongs and seek reparations.
Is this a form of repentance or merely the window dressings on the same old institutional mannerisms? Will other universities follow suit in some way?
This idea led me to consider how our faith might impact systems. Is there a need for institutional repentance when institutions have done wrong at macro-levels?
Now, when we spend time talking about loving our Christian brothers and sisters, I think we may all have to make a confession.
It is popular in the church today to be cynical about the church. So much of contemporary writing and speaking within Christian circles in America reflects the value that it is cool to be cynical about the church.
We slam those stiff, retro believers who don’t understand how we are called to love those different from us with HIV/AIDS or who are struggling to save the environment or who are democrats instead of republicans.
We mock those medieval believers who idiotically supported the Crusades which was one of the most stinking smells in the history of the church for how it lacked true love toward the neighbor.
But in doing so, we often sin by failing to love our Christian brothers and sisters. We set up a straw man of who they are and we beat it and burn it. We slam them in the name of self-righteousness about loving others. We say we love but we fail to love.
We say we follow Jesus but we miss the new command he gave: love your brothers and sisters and then the world will know my love.