Our Missionary God (Psalm 67)

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Our Missionary God

Psalm 67

You are here to impact the world. God wants His children to be witnesses. God’s heart is for all people. Your prosperity is for missionary outreach. Chris is at Compass Bible Church in Alisa Viejo, wishing he was here.

Do you know the story of William Carey? The biography by S. Pearce Carey is one of my favorite missionary biographies of all time. The first few chapters feel slow and then it becomes gripping. Carey was an Englishman, born to a lower-class family. Due to allergies and a painful skin disease that forced him indoors, he eventually found work apprenticing as a shoe repairman.

It was in that shoe shop that he heard the Gospel. He had been raised in the Anglican Church, but never understood the Gospel. Paired with another young man who was a Particular Baptist, William Carey heard the Gospel. After three years of faithful witness, he began to follow Christ.

By age 22, he had begun attending a Baptist church and studying the Scriptures, eventually teaching himself Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Two years later, he was asked to preach regularly at a small Baptist church that was in decline due to the loss of their pastor. He still worked on shoes while reading books and studying the world, even hanging maps and fact sheets around the workshop.

The shoe store owner saw where Carey’s passions lay and told him to pursue ministry, committing to continue paying him what he had been earning at the store. After two more years of ministry, he was ordained by the Particular Baptists and began to talk to them about the need of other nations for the Gospel (1786).

The Particular Baptists were hyper-Calvinists, which means that they elevated God’s sovereignty and diminished man’s responsibility. For that reason, when Carey proposed missionary work, “Young man, sit down, sit down!” was the reported response of one minister. “You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.”

And so, six years later, Carey studied further and then published a book on how God put the responsibility on men to take the Gospel to other nations (1792). After more work and pleading, a missions’ society was begun, and William Carey and his family, along with another man, were sent out as the first missionaries.

They could not go to east India legally, so they found passage in a Dutch ship and then floated in on a small boat. Their money ran out quickly and they searched for work. Disease and trouble seemed to follow everywhere. He struggled with malaria, his 5-year-old boy died and his wife went mad from dysentery. Yet he studied Bengali, found work in a factory, and then began to study Sanskrit.

Four years after landing, he translated a basic Bengali New Testament and had it printed. After seven years in India, two things happened. First, the missionary society sent seven more people to help him. Second, an Indian man professed Christ, the first convert! I’ll fast forward, because you need to read the book.

He had two wives die, he lost more children, his translation work literally burned up in a fire. But before the Lord took him home, he translated the Bible into six languages and did partial translations into 29 other languages. His team eventually saw about 700 converts. But his legacy is what he did to foster a passion for the nations–he grasped a truth that had been neglected by the English church.

He wasn’t charismatic or compelling. He was a poor shoe repairman and he was faithful. He described himself as a plodder–a man who wasn’t showy, but simply persevered. His book, his story and his letters home incited a huge interest in world missions. He is known today as the Father of modern missions.

That heart for the world to be saved is a truth that pervades the Bible. The apostles, St. Patrick, the Moravians, John Calvin, David Brainerd, Jim Eliot and many others all saw this elemental truth in the Scripture and embraced it. We have a missionary God. From Genesis to Revelation, you see God’s heart for the world.

Though He created us and we rebelled against Him, he sought us out. Though far from Him, He came to us and opened our eyes to know the good news. Closed up in darkness, He brought the light of the Word to our eyes. He sent His Son Jesus to a foreign land, to a people unlike Him. He preached the Gospel and called people to repent.

He then gave His life for those people, dying on the cross, enduring the shame and bearing the wrath of God for our sins. We have a missionary God. It is evident throughout Scripture. Even the book of Psalms has a repeated missionary thrust. And today, I want to look at Psalm 67 with you. It is a missionary Psalm. Open up your Bibles there.

We don’t know who wrote it. Many of the Psalms are written by David or Asaph, but this one has no name attached. It was written to be sung. It was intended to be heard. At the very beginning, it says that it’s for the choir director, with stringed instruments accompanying. Let me read it aloud to you.

God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us–Selah [musical pause or octave change]. 2 That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Selah. 5 Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 6 The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. 7 God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him” (Psalm 67:1-7).

What is most clear from this Psalm is that you are here to impact the world. If you profess to follow Christ, you are sitting here today, in this church, with the Bible in your hand, SO THAT you would impact the world with the Gospel. We see this truth stated in multiple ways throughout the Psalm–perhaps most obviously . . .

1.  God Wants His Children to Be Witnesses

The Psalm has the repeated cry–let all the peoples praise you (verses 3 and 5). And this is not a general cry for the world, but a surprisingly specific request. The word used for people is not describing mankind. It’s not a synonym for the world as a whole. And it’s not the same word that we would use for a race of people or an ethnicity.

The word refers to a group of people larger than a tribe and smaller than a race. Do you know what we call that today? It’s called a people group. Think of India–it’s one nation, but not made up of one people group. There are multiple castes in India. Most broadly, there are four based on a hereditary social status. And then another 3,000 based on occupation, and even more sub-castes.

The Gospel doesn’t spread easily from one caste to another. And within caste, language inhibits spread–same caste, same ethnicity, different languages. That would be a people group. It is the largest group with shared ethnicity and language in which the Gospel can spread, accepted and understood–maybe almost similar to the difference between someone from Alabama and New York.

The consistent plea of Psalm 67 is that God’s children are to be witnesses–leading people from all over the world, not just nations but people groups, to know the one true God. The message of Psalm 67 is that we are to tell other people about our great God and Savior.

I know that you hear that all the time now, but did you realize that has always been God’s desire? This has been part of God’s plan since choosing Abraham in Genesis 12. “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; 2 and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; 3 and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

God’s plan and promise to Abraham was that all the nations and peoples would be blessed as a result of what He would do through Abraham. So when Israel enters the Promised Land, a Gentile like Rahab is grafted into the children of God because of her confident faith in God. And when Israel is a theocracy, a Moabitess like Ruth is able to make Naomi’s god her god, because she recognizes that Israel’s god is the one true god.

And these weren’t chance occurrences. When Solomon finally builds the Temple, he prays to dedicate the Temple to God and says, “’And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else’” (1 Kings 8:59 to 60).

Solomon prays that the Lord would specially care for Israel in such a way that the rest of the earth would know that Israel’s God is the only god. He recognized that God’s continual concern is for the nations.

A couple hundred years later, to Judah God would say through Isaiah, “He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:6).

Isaiah reminds Israel the coming of the Messiah is not for your singular benefit. God wants salvation to extend through you “to the end of the earth.” When Israel rejects their Messiah, that same charge that was given to Israel is passed on to Christ’s disciples.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18 to 20).

And just like Psalm 67, Christ commanded His followers to go and make disciples of all the nations. Lexically, “all the nations” is not referring to individuals or to countries, but to ethnic groups (aka “people groups”). Acts 1:8, “’but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’”

First Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This is why the Church is now here. God wants His children to be witnesses to the world of His justice, power and grace. That’s the hope of Psalm 67:4.

And that is what often happens when churches send missionaries like the Cramers. Cory and Kristine moved to Albania three years ago. They were sent out by their church in Seattle, and supported by many individuals, including some of you here today. They went with the initial plan of reaching out to youth through English camps and Bible studies.

If you don’t know it, Albania is the Romoland of eastern Europe. It is not a destination spot. Despite low prices, nobody goes there on vacation. It feels neglected and other Europeans look down on it. The Albanians speak a language unconnected to any other European or current world language. It has no relationship to any other spoken language, so it is hard to learn. And though most Albanians learn a second language, no one learns theirs.

This is where the Cramers went–specifically to Pogradec, about three hours from the capital with 60,000 people. They helped run English camps for students in the summer and attendance was massive. The people came to hear the Americans and they learned about Jesus. Albania had been an atheistic state under communism and Jesus was virtually unknown.

As you heard in the video last week, students began to come to Christ. Bible studies developed and people were saved and transformed. As the students began to change in their homes, the parents began to attend and be saved. A church was formed–Cory partnered with Erion Delich, an Albanian pastor, to start it. And now, in a town that had no Christian witness, over 100 believers gather each week to worship.

We are called to be witnesses. God wants you and me to be witnesses for Him–to be faithful to tell others about Him. This might mean that you make the choice that Dojo and Christine Aguilar are making. Since being saved, Dojo has begun to desire to return to Cebu in the Philippines to be a witness of Christ there. He is getting trained now.

Having finished the Training Center, he is a future potential elder here. He is attending seminary while working a full-time job and leading a community group. He and his family make sacrifices now so that they can return to where he grew up and faithfully tell others of Christ.

God wants his children to be witnesses. What does this look like in your life? For Wayne Leffel, this meant sharing his new faith with his son. He brought him to church. He talked with him about the Gospel, which he had long rejected and now believed. And his son believed in Christ and is now faithfully walking with him in Tennessee!

Maybe you need to make the hard choice that Cory and Kristine did to go somewhere difficult. Maybe you need to get training and go home the way Dojo is planning on. Maybe you just need to seize on the opportunity with the hairdresser that you always shy away from. Or have the hard conversation with your adult child that you want to, but always get nervous about. God wants you to be a witness to Him, wherever you go, whoever you’re around. I can say this because . . .

2.  God’s Heart is for ALL People to Worship Him

God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us–Selah. 2 That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Selah. 5 Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 6 The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. 7 God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him” (Psalm 67:1 to 7).

The psalmist understands that God’s desire is for ALL people to worship Him.

Verse 2–You want your way to be known on the whole earth.

You want your salvation made known among ALL the nations.

Verse 3–Let every people group praise you.

Verse 4–Let the nations be glad and sing for joy when you come to judge.

Verse 7–God desires that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.

And this is the Old Testament. You know that when you read the Old Testament, you see that the Jews were to live distinct from the world. Their worship, their diet, their appearance–all of it was to be different. But they were not to live in solitude. They were not to live in total isolation from the world around them.

God always intended them to be a light to the nations. They were supposed to live with compassion towards the unsaved around them. The Old Testament Law actually commands kindness from the Jews towards Gentiles (non-Jews) around them. But that got distorted. They took that need to be different and made it hateful.

Luke 15:1 to 2, “Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Jesus to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” The Jews often attacked Jesus for his friendliness towards non-Jews and people separate from God. Here in Luke 15, these words lead into the story of the prodigal son.

The message of the whole Bible is that God’s desire is for all people to worship Him. First Timothy 2:4, “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Second Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

When you wait in line at the grocery store and you see the rough looking guy with a 24-pack of beer–God wants him to be saved. When you drive by the run-down lady who’s talking to herself as she staggers along the road, God wants her saved. When you see on the news about ISIS fighters who were killed in an attack, know that God desired their worship, that they would turn from Allah to follow Jesus.

Ezekiel 18:32, “’For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Therefore, repent and live.’” Ezekiel and his wife were among 10,000 Jews taken captive to Babylon. While living there, he would have heard of Jerusalem’s fall and the Temple’s destruction. He had every reason to hate the Babylonians. But he is a spokesman for God. And God takes no pleasure in their death. He desires ALL people to be reached.

Marco Bartholomä returned to Berlin, Germany a year and a half ago. He has been busy working to see a church planted in south central Berlin. He and his father-in-law, Christian, purposefully chose that area for the church. Not only is it centrally accessible and close to a rail stop, but it is surrounded by immigrants.

There are about 3-million people in Berlin, and one in three people are immigrants (first or second generation). Marco’s church started meeting this fall, and so far there are forty adults attending. Christianity is the state religion of Germany, but it is completely Christ-less. A nondenominational church is viewed with suspicion there, but God is still saving people. Marco went to a hard field.

But God desires ALL people to be reached. That was the belief that forced Robert Clark back onto the mission field. He served faithfully for almost 20 years in the Czech Republic, working with local churches after the wall came down. When his sending organization went off the rails doctrinally, Robert and Kim came home. But he knew the work wasn’t done.

He knew that there were more people who God wanted to save, and he found an opportunity in Manila to be involved in training future pastors, so off he headed. Robert now serves at a seminary in Manila, teaching pastoral ministry courses to men who are a year away from serving in churches.

If you ask him, it would have been far easier to stay here stateside. So why did he go? Because he knew that God’s heart is for ALL people–not just the Czech’s, and not just the Americans. And there are many people groups in the Philippines whom Robert is able to affect by training nationals to minister there.

God desires that ALL people are reached with the Gospel. This might mean that you go help start a church somewhere that there isn’t one. Or you get trained and sent out to invest your life into other church leaders. But it might also mean that you simply need to expand who you talk to.

You stop finding the moms at school who wear the same clothes as you, and instead you start to talk to the lady who is the hired nanny, showing her love and telling her of Christ. Maybe you choose to walk up to the group of boys skateboarding and compliment them and ask their names and ask if any go to church. And then tell them the story of how God saved you.

God desires for us to love the lost while living distinct from them–the same mission as the Jews. The Jews grew to hate the world–and our danger seems to be falling in love with the world. God desires us to reach out, while remaining distinct. He doesn’t want you comfortable and only friendly with people who’re just like you. You need to cross age lines. You need to cross racial barriers. You need to cross political divides.

God’s heart is for ALL PEOPLE. And if you genuinely believe that there is a God
and that Hell is real and that Jesus is who He claimed to be–God incarnate, perfect and sinless, put to death on a cross for your sins and for mine . . . if that’s true and you genuinely enjoy and love God more than this life, then it is mind-blowing that you would remain silent around others, no matter who they are. If He saved you and you and you and him and me, then He can save ANYONE! Okay, back to the Psalm.

1.  God Made You to be a Witness for Him

2.  God’s Heart is for ALL People to Worship Him

3.  Your Prosperity is for Missionary Outreach

Look at the Psalm again. “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us–Selah. 2 That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Selah. 5 Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 6 The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. 7 God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.”

Verses 1 and 2 take Aaron’s blessing in Numbers and rework it to express purpose. Back before David, when Israel was just becoming a nation in the book of Numbers, God tells Israel how they could live devoutly towards Him, even without being a priest. And after telling them how, the Lord tells Aaron (the chief priest) what to say to such people.

Numbers 6:24 to 26, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; 25 the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” The psalmist takes what was said in the Temple to a Jew who was committing to live holy for God and he declares a greater purpose to this benediction. He says let God be gracious and bless and cause His face to shine on us so that salvation would be known among all the nations.

When the psalmist says “bless us”, he is talking about material prosperity. He is asking God to cause them to flourish so that the rest of the world would benefit. He is saying, “God, cause us to prosper so that others will learn about you. God, make us wealthy in order to reach the world.”

The prosperity gospel says, “Bless us so that we can enjoy you by enjoying ourselves.” Verses 1 and 2, “Bless us so that your way may be known,” and the end of the Psalm removes the question. It’s no longer a request, but a statement of truth. God blesses you for a reason.

Verse 6, the earth yields its produce (how Israel would most easily identify prosperity) because God blesses them. And verse 7, God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may fear Him. He is saying in essence, God gives us money for missions. He’s asking that Israel and faithful Jews flourish so that other nations would come to know God.

Now listen–you are not Israel. The Old Testament was not written to you. But this same truth is articulated in 1 Timothy 6, which we looked at on January 1st. God blesses you so that you can make Him known! This is why God put you in America. It is not simply that He wanted to give you religious freedom to worship. It is not that He wanted you to experience the blessing of capitalism. And it is not so that you can experience great healthcare or the right to bear arms–all of which I’m thankful for!

Those are all amazing blessings of living here. But that is not why He saved you as an American. Verse 7–God blesses us that all the end of the earth may fear Him. That is something that was said of Israel and became true of Israel before they wandered from God. God never said this about America, but He has said it about you. This truth is something we can apply to our own lives.

God blesses you materially so that you can help the world be reached for Christ. Your prosperity is for missionary outreach. Shannon Hurley is our missionary to Uganda. He had a heart for global missions, but went to work in sales. He was selling plush toys–little fuzzy animals.

He got a call from an insurance company that was looking for some ducks–white ones with a blue bandana with the word Aflac on it. Not long afterwards, their ad campaign took off and Shannon was busy supplying them all the ducks they could use. He raked it in for a while and then headed to seminary. He got trained while still selling plush ducks.

He had a heart for Africa, and tried to go to Nigeria, but the Lord redirected him to Uganda. When he finished seminary and was ordained, he took his savings and bought an apartment complex in Louisville. Those apartments supported him in the early years and they continue to help fund the ministry of SOS.

Because his boss was a Christian, he allowed Shannon to keep the residual income from Aflac even after he went into the field–a similar heart to what William Carey’s shoe store boss had. How do you use the prosperity that God has blessed you with? You don’t have to be able to buy an apartment complex. You just need to prioritize ministry over leisure.

We’re in 2017 now, right? Everyone is doing their taxes for 2016. You’re getting your statements and your year-end reports. Would you take a look and see if you spent more on vacation or the Lord’s work? God blesses us so that He would be known. Are you faithful with what He has entrusted to you? Your salary, your house, your kids, your tools, your decorations . . .

Seated around you are people who have been faithful. There are people here who sacrificially open up their homes for community group and youth ministry. Food gets eaten and stuff gets broken all the time and they don’t complain. Some of you are running evangelistic neighborhood Bible studies, inviting neighbors in and sharing the Gospel with them.

Other people take time off work to help with VBS in the summer. Layne Higgins runs it and he and many others give up vacation time, personal days and take off work early so that they can help kids hear about Jesus. Some people take a week off in the summer to help with J2017, our weeklong local outreach run by Morgan Maitland, where we do compassion work, evangelistic outreach and more for our valley.

And in years past, a number of you would take time off in order to help with youth summer camp, being part of the MAD crew or working as a boat driver or a cook, all to help our students hear about Christ. There are FBC’ers who go to MSJC during the middle of the day and faithfully share about Christ. There are FBC’ers who go to city events like the Rod Run and tell people about Christ.

We have a bunch of people who are faithful to serve and work and talk in order to spread the Gospel. But we also have a bunch of people who just sit there. They don’t say much. They don’t do much. They don’t care to get involved or to speak out. Christian–God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may fear Him. What are you doing to make that happen?

The promise of verse 4, which is the center of the Psalm, the core of the Psalm is this–God will judge the people with uprightness (integrity) and rule the nations on Earth. And the missionary prayer of verse 4 is this—“Oh let the nations be glad and sing for joy on that day.”

Let us be faithful to tell them of Christ so that they will rejoice when He returns. Let us use our prosperity for evangelism. Think big. You don’t know everyone in the valley. How can you reach more? As a church, we don’t have the people to reach everyone in Murrieta-Temecula by relationship.

As elders, we dream and brainstorm and pray. And we ask God to do amazing things. We prayed for property and God gave us 24 acres on the freeway that was going into bankruptcy.

We heard about Compass—Huntington Beach using an ice cream truck for outreach and we were interested. We’ve had men talk to them and visit them and go out with them–and then God provided us an opportunity to buy an ice cream truck that was being repossessed. So as an experiment, we bought it! And in the coming months, you’re going to hear about opportunities to go into neighborhoods and special events, giving people free ice cream and telling them about our church and our Savior.

In the same way that God sought us and found us, we want to go and find people and bring them in. They might not be willing to come on a Sunday, but maybe they’ll eat some free ice cream and be interested in hearing more about our generous, gracious God. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

We have a lot of room to grow in this. I do personally and so do most of you. We need to risk. We need to speak. We need to sacrifice. We need to reach out to people who are unlike us. Each year we get away as elders to talk and pray. One of the things we do is look at how the church has changed. We talk about where it’s strong and where it’s weak and how we need to grow.

Some years back, we talked and agreed together that we lacked compassion. As elders, we weren’t the most compassionate. And as a church, we didn’t seem to have much either. We prayed and we taught on it and we prayed some more. And by God’s grace, that has changed. We do far better than we used to.

We used to have a meals and help ministry called “Hands of Mercy”–they would help new moms with meals and serve families where someone was sick. But they don’t exist anymore. Do you know why? Because our community groups began to care for people in amazing ways. When a lady would have a baby, her own friends would sometimes be too late to bring a meal. When someone would get sick, hospital visits happen and housework is taken care of without all of us ever hearing about it.

We don’t bat 1000, but our compassion for others has grown hugely. We have a jail ministry where they go into local jails to do Bible studies three days a week. We have ministry to the homeless and other people in our body check up on our widows regularly. By God’s grace, we have seen incredible growth in compassion. And now we are praying that God brings us that same growth in missions and outreach.

We want a waiting list for short-term missions’ trips the same way there is for our marriage retreat. We want some to make Dojo’s choice to get trained for ministry and then sent to start a church in a place of great need. We want to hear that Eddie and Clint’s evangelism ministry is no longer needed because of how many of you are talking about Christ to others as a natural part of your life.

We want to see new people, people unlike us, coming to Christ and attending FBC and bringing their friends because of you seeking them out and loving them and winning them to Christ. That’s what Scripture calls us to. That’s what we’re praying for–because we have a missionary God who is committed to reaching the lost around us. Will you pray for our growth in evangelism and missions with me now?

About John Pleasnick

John serves as a pastor and elder at Faith Bible Church

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