For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 65

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me.” Philippians 4:10 

“Out of sight, out of mind.”
It’s a familiar phrase which describes our natural tendency to lose focus and dwindle in our concern for the things that do not capture our pressing attention. This is how many missionaries have expressed their feelings of being forgotten and abandoned by their home church and those who once applauded their call to follow the Lord to the ends of the earth. Now, the closest thing the missionary or the church planter gets to real concern is a passing thought sparked by a refrigerator magnet or a passive like on a social media post.

The Apostle Paul certainly felt the same way, as he alludes to in this passage that the concern the church of Philippi once had for him and his mission had nearly died. This verse is an inside look at the heart of a missionary in his relationship with a supporting church, a church planter with his former church plant.  Paul had started the church in Philippi and now they had committed to supporting him in his mission of sharing the Gospel and starting new churches throughout the world.  
There are really two ways to multiply church plants- Either,
1. Start the church and then raise up others to be sent out to begin new churches. Or,
2. Start the church and then raise up others to lead it while the original church planter moves on to start other churches.  Paul was the second variety of church planter; he was a Catalytic planter.  He would till the hard soil and go to difficult places as a pioneer for the Gospel. Not everyone has the intestinal fortitude to be a Catalytic planter, but even the best of the best cannot do it alone.

In spite of seemingly forgetting about Paul and ignoring him and his struggles for a season, Paul does not rebuke the church for losing their passion for him after his departure from them, but rather he shares what great joy it brought him to know that the church had “revived” their “concern” for him.  This should give us pause to reflect on how we may have also lost our passion and concern for the missionaries and church planters whom we know and support. Are there any missionaries serving the Lord who as a result of being “out of sight” are no longer on our minds and in our prayers? Truthfully, we must all strive to revive our concern for missions and ministry.  We need a revival before there can be a revival. What is revival?  

Revival is when God’s Spirit convicts us of sin and awakens us to His presence, glory and mission in our lives and activity in our world.  

Warren Mainard

Our hearts should continually be set aflame with a passion for the dream of seeing the nations reached for the glory of God.  As the early 19th century missionary Henry Martyn said, 

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” 

Henry Martyn

Revival is always necessary, because the “default position” of the heart is to be selfish and self-focused.  Left to ourselves, without the Spirit pushing us out of our default position, we will always return to a place of apathy and ignorance towards ministry and missions.  Only God can revive our concern for missions and ministry. This default position is safe, easy and comfortable, but when we live outside of ourselves, we discover where the real action is! When our hearts are revived to God’s Kingdom work and how we can be a part of it, God does His best work in and through us.  

This is why both individually and as a church, we must strive to continually pursue opportunities to serve in our community, enter into Gospel conversations with unbelievers, give to Kingdom ministries and go on local and international missions.  Every time we serve, give and go, we are allowing God to push us out of ourselves.  The first challenge is to step out of your default position and serve, give and go for the Lord on mission and in ministry.  This is why short term mission trips are a great experience for believers; more than just a sanctified vacation, mission trips are an opportunity to align your heart with the heart of God for the Nations and revive your concern for those giving their lives in mission.

The greater challenge is to remain passionate and focused on the mission, long after the passport is stamped and the mountain top experience has been replaced by the concerns of the valley. We must learn how to pray, give and go in every circumstance, no matter where we are.  The mission of God is not reserved only for a trip and ministry to others is not reserved only for a time of the week.  Let’s also not forget how our “revived concern” for missions and ministries impacts those who have given their lives and often surrendered all in order to “go” where the Lord has sent them.  

We should continually strive to be a blessing to those that the Lord has brought  into our lives that are serving Him in special ways.  We can pray for them, support them financially, send them gifts and notes of encouragement, travel to visit and encourage them, or show them hospitality when they return to visit.  In blessing our ministry staff and missionaries, we not only bless them, we bless those whom they are serving as well and we too receive a blessing from the Lord!

Will you ask the Lord to stoke the fires of revival in your own heart for His mission?  Will you take bold steps to get out of your comfort zone and strive to stay out of your self-focused zone?  Finally, will you pray for, encourage and seek to bless those you know who are serving the Lord in missions and ministry so that they will have added reason to “rejoice in the Lord greatly” because of you?

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