Missionaries in the Bible

July, August, September 2008

Want to learn more about Missionaries in the Bible? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: For Such a Time As This: The Apostle Paul (Acts 22)
Have you noticed the pattern in the Bible that God loves to work through weakness? Old Testament battles are won by using fewer soldiers (Judges 7) or going into combat leading with the choir (2 Chronicles 20). In 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 God plainly says that He uses the foolish and weak things of the earth to defeat the worldly wise and strong things of men. Why? God doesn't want humans to get confused about who is responsible for the victory. If you are a Christian and you generally consider yourself to be weak and foolish, this is good news. What about the rest of us who do not like to think we are weak or foolish most of the time? This is the good news about studying the life of the apostle Paul. He was smart and sophisticated and God did great things through him. Let's dive into our study of Paul and find out more!

Lesson 2: "All Things to All Men": Paul Preaches to the World (1 Corinthians 9 & 10)
"Why would we use the world's approach? All we need is the Holy Spirit!" Some church leaders look at evangelizing the world like any other business outreach. If a strategy works for business, we should try it in the church. Others seem to think no modern strategy is needed, we should just depend on the Holy Spirit to bring in new members. E.M. Bounds said: "Man looks for better methods, God looks for better men. Men are God's methods." Does that make any sense? Wouldn't better men look for better methods? What if the Holy Spirit told us to use modern strategies? Would you be willing to change your church service as a strategy to attract new members? What if you thought certain changes were theologically incorrect, would you make those? What about members who think the changes are sinful? Let's dive into our lesson and find out what the Holy Spirit says through missionary Paul about converting the world!

Lesson 3: John the Baptist: Preparing the Way for Jesus (Luke 1 & 3, Matthew 11)
Would you like Jesus to say great things about you? What if He said "Among the human race, no one is greater than [insert your name]." Nothing could be better, right? The problem, of course, is that you are a sinful person, whose faith sometimes fails. Did you know that Jesus made that remark about John the Baptist? (Matthew 11:11) Clearly John was this great missionary with absolutely no faith problems, right? Or, wrong? What kind of person was John? What can we learn from his life to give us comfort in our failures? Let's dive into the lesson and find out!

Lesson 4: The Son of God Among Us (John 1, Luke 15, Matthew 23)
We don't normally think of Jesus as a "missionary," but He is the greatest missionary of all times. As we continue our series of studies on great missionaries, let's consider Jesus' missionary work with sinners and what we can learn from Him in our mission to bring others into the Kingdom of God. Let's dive into God's word and see what we can learn!

Lesson 5: Matthew 10: Jesus and His Disciples (Matthew 10)
Our current series of studies on the great missionaries is focused on the life and actions of these missionaries. Our goal? To deduce how their lives and actions apply to ours. Our lesson this week starts out much differently. Instead of trying to deduce the specific principles from our missionary examples, Jesus just states the principles to His disciples. Our only question is whether these same principles apply to our missionary efforts? Let's dive into the Bible and consider this!

Lesson 6: The Compassionate Savior (Mark 5 & 12, John 9)
What kind of an attitude should we have as missionaries to the world? It would seem this is an easy question. The answer to is be kind and loving and share the gospel message, right? But, perhaps this issue is a bit more complex. When I was growing up, I learned about a problem in the church mission program. It seems that American missionaries had trouble realizing where their American culture left off and the gospel message began. To combat that potential problem, the suggestion was to have American missionaries go to foreign lands, train the locals in the gospel, and then let them push forward with American financial support. Imagine how those conceptions from my youth disappeared when I was approached this summer about having missionaries from Brazil and Europe come to my area to share the gospel. They were coming to share with English-speaking Americans! So much for the idea of leaving it to the natives. I was now the native! Our lesson is not about this specific issue, but it is about some of the complexities of how we approach our work as missionaries for Jesus. Let's jump right into our study of the Bible!

Lesson 7: The Apostle John (Luke 5, Mark 10, 1 John 3)
Is your heart at peace? At this moment I feel a very heavy load of things to do. Burdens press me at work and at home. I am always working to meet time deadlines. (Even to write this lesson each week.) Our lesson this week is for those whose hearts are not at peace. Jesus wants us, as His missionaries, to have peace in our hearts. He wants us to understand how our timing is not His timing. Let's plunge into the Bible and find the path to peace!

Lesson 8: From Folly to Faith: The Apostle Peter (Mark 14, John 18 & 21)
Can you think of a Christian who is not a very good witness for Jesus? I'm not referring to someone who only talks about being a Christian. I mean someone who is a serious Christian, but who does not have a very good sense of how to get along. The world calls the ability to relate to others "emotional intelligence," the Bible calls it "wisdom." Our study this week is about the apostle Peter who had a great deal of growing to do in the emotional intelligence department. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about Peter and improving our own emotional intelligence!

Lesson 9: A Pillar of Mission: The Apostle Peter (Matthew 16, Acts 2 & 3)
Last week we looked at Peter's "early years" in the ministry. His failure to understand the self-sacrificing nature of the gospel work ahead of him was replaced with an understanding of his true mission and the future glory which awaited him in heaven. What can we learn from a mature Peter? How does a mature Christian live? Or, is Peter not an example for us because he was given special authority not available to us? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 10: Women of Mission (John 4, Acts 16)
Our culture does not allow us to understand the difficulty of being a "woman of mission" during Jesus' day. We do not even clearly understand the problem Jesus and His disciples faced ministering to women. The Jewish rabbis of Jesus' time said "It is better that the words of the Law be burned than be delivered to a woman!" (The Bible Exposition Commentary on Acts 16:13.) Jesus and His disciples, if they followed cultural norms, should have ignored women when it came to sharing the gospel. They did not. Instead, our study shows Jesus used them as missionaries. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 11: Mission in a Pagan Land: Daniel and Company (Daniel 1 & 2)
Have you ever thought that life, as you knew it, had come to an end? Those thoughts went through my mind early in the day on September 11, 2001, when I was in the Washington, D.C. area and the Pentagon was hit (we thought) with a bomb. Last year, I heard a young man from Rwanda tell his story of losing his family and fleeing his country as a result of the genocide there. This week we look at Daniel, a man whose life was turned up-side down by the Babylonian conquest of his country. It is one thing to try to convert others when all around you is normal. What about being a missionary when everything around you has changed? Let's plunge into the life of Daniel and find out!

Lesson 12: Gifted for Service: Philip (Acts 6 & 8)
How do you solve problems in the church? Is it with gifted plans or gifted people? If you had to choose, which would be more important? This week we study a man who was part of the solution to one of the most explosive problems in the early church. He apparently did well in his service to the church for God made him a powerful evangelist. Let's jump into our study of Philip and learn about the ideal life in service for God.

Lesson 13: "Here Am I! Send Me:" The Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6)
Do you like change? Most people fear change because it brings uncertainty. Right now I'm adding change to my unchanged life. I've lived in the same house for over 25 years, but have rented a house in a new city and am slowly moving there. I've had the same employer for over 32 years, but now I spend half my time teaching in law school. For 28 years I have been a member of the same local church, but I'm slowly moving to the new church in the new city. I've been married to the same wife for 34 years and my goal is to make no changes there! Change creates anxiety. Being a missionary may require some change in your life. This week our lesson starts out with changing leadership, let's dive into our study of Isaiah!

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