As I was praying about what to share this month, I sensed the Lord leading me back to something I have shared before. Below you will find my newsletter article for March 2009. This is an area that I too need to take more seriously.
“Pioneers”? I don’t know about you but I have always been attracted to pioneers. Abraham/Isaac/Jacob of the Old Testament, Apostle Paul of the New Testament, Daniel Boone or Lewis & Clark of American history – they all broke out of their comfort zones and set out to explore new lands. There is something exciting about their courage, their sacrifice, and their dedication. And how often I have dreamed of being one of them. In fact I told the Lord, over 40 years ago, that I would be willing to go to the farthest ends of the earth for Him. When He told me that my ministry for Him was not to be on foreign soil I had mixed feelings. I was relieved because of my strong shy personality, but I also was disappointed because I felt like I wasn’t going to be on the front lines of ministry.
Just think about Christopher Columbus – sailing on behalf of Spain – seeking new territory for His country. I can visualize him landing on the islands of the Caribbean – he is carrying the Spanish flag – he marches up onto the shore – he then rams the Spanish flag into the sand, claiming that territory for Spain. Wouldn’t that be exciting? And he was received as a hero when he returned to his country.
Now visualize the time when you get to heaven. Can you see God welcoming you home? Will He be able to say to you, “Well done my faithful servant”? Will God honor you for taking new territory for Him? You may ask, “What do mean by new territory, Steve”? I mean that you and I are God’s hands and legs on this earth. We take Him to others. We share Him with others. And at the end of our lives will God have been able to use us to lead another person to Himself, or use us to love someone else into a closer relationship with Jesus. That’s taking new territory for the Lord. So pioneer, how much territory have you been a part of taking for God?
In the Great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus says He is counting on us to be “pioneers” for Him. Like the King of Spain waiting on Columbus victorious return, God is waiting for our ministry for Him to claim more territory. The one thing on earth that causes the angels to celebrate in heaven is another person turning his or her life over to the Lord. When we take new territory for Jesus there is a spur-of-the-moment party that erupts in heaven. You see, it’s that important to God. And it should be that important to us.
In John 12:32 Jesus says “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself”. The term “lifted up from the earth” is a reference to Jesus being lifted up on the cross for us. His death on that cross was for the purpose of drawing each person in the world to Himself. Remember, He came “to seek and to save those who are lost”. To do so in your life God sent plenty of pioneers out to claim you as new territory for Him. And now that you belong to Him He is sending you out “to seek” the lost so He can “save” them. As His presence in the world we are the way the Lord connects with those who need Him. If we fail to take Him to others then they remain without Him and without hope. Our main purpose as His servants is to take new territory for Him – to do everything we can to lead others closer to the Lord.
God’s pioneers are prayer warriors (praying that specific people get saved, praying for our witness to them, or praying for other pioneers as they reach those people). God’s pioneers are givers (giving love and time to others, giving God’s tithe and offerings so that others may come to know Him). God’s pioneers are also witnesses, seeing their reason for existing as sharing Jesus with those without Him. And so each day they look for opportunities to touch someone for Jesus. In addition God’s pioneers are teammates realizing how important it is to include fellow Christians or to join them in reaching the lost. Taking new territory is a team effort. That, of course, is one of the many reasons we need to be a participating member of a local church.
Your Christian purpose and the purpose of First Baptist Church is to be God’s pioneers in Rowan County, NC. Our assignment includes your family, your friends, your neighbors, your workmates, and your associates. You are needed to help our church reach those within your influence. New territory is waiting for us to claim others for Jesus.
From one pioneer to another,