Churches and the Missionary Task–Healthy Church Formation

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I remember when my first child was born over 21 years ago.  It seems like only yesterday.  She stole my heart in that sterile delivery room with her red hair and chubby cheeks.  As I write this blog, my baby is in labor to give birth to our first grandbaby.  The birth of a child is unlike any other experience.  Giving birth to a child is only the beginning.  There is so much we want of our children. So much that we want them to be.  Ultimately, the goal is to nurture and raise our kids to live for Jesus. 

Church planting in the New Testament is like giving birth.  As we look at the book of Acts, the gospel spreads as churches are birthed—that is, planted in new locations. Paul, the main church planter in Acts, enters a location without the gospel, evangelizes unbelievers, disciples those who come to faith in Jesus, gathers those believers into congregations, raises up leaders, and then exits that place to repeat the process all over again.        

The strategy for gospel advancement in the book of Acts is church planting.  In other words, God uses the formation and multiplication of the local church to spread the gospel of Jesus locally and globally.  While the aim of the Great Commission is to make disciples of all nations, how this is accomplished is through the formation of healthy churches.  Where churches do not exist, missionaries must enter those locations, share Jesus, and begin making disciples in order to form healthy churches.  The task of the missionary is summarized as entry, evangelism, discipleship, healthy church formation, leadership development, and exit. 

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“A church is a group of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who are committed to each other to be the body of Christ to one another and who meet together regularly to carry out the functions of a biblical church” (IMB Foundations). What is it that we want of our churches? What do we want them to be?  Though not exhaustive, IMB Foundations offers 12 characteristics that describe what a sustainable church should be.  Whether the church is new or established, these characteristics are guides for what every church should strive to be.

  1. Biblical evangelism—people come into the church because they have heard and responded to the full gospel message.
  2. Biblical discipleship—members of the church intentionally invest in one another’s lives to grow to maturity in Jesus.
  3. Biblical membership—members are only those who give credible evidence of repentance and faith in Jesus, and who have been baptized as believers.
  4. Biblical leadership—God gives two offices of the church: pastors/elders/overseers and deacons.
  5. Biblical preaching and teaching—weekly teaching of the Word is essential for the church and consists of the exposition and application of Scripture.
  6. Biblical ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper—believers are baptized by immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Lord’s Supper is observed regularly by the church to remember and celebrate Jesus’s death, resurrection and promised return.
  7. Biblical worship—a healthy church offers to God worship as prescribed in His word so that the church sings, prays, reads, and hears the word.
  8. Biblical fellowship—members of the church love each other, encourage one another, and build each other up.
  9. Biblical prayer—the church prays both privately and corporately.
  10. Biblical accountability and discipline—members hold one another accountable to the word and leaders of the church watch over the flock entrusted to their care.
  11. Biblical giving—members give freely of their resources for the support of the church in the making of disciples.
  12. Biblical mission—the church is organized to make disciples locally, but also to do so among the nations.

The birth of a child is unlike any other experience.  New parents look forward to the beginning of their child’s life, but the goal is not to stay in the hospital after birth or even for one’s child to remain an infant.  The goal of any parent is to nurture and raise their child to maturity.  The New Testament church has the same goal.  These 12 characteristics are like a guidebook for new parents on what a church is called to be.  May the Lord send out and use your church to multiply many more churches with these characteristics. 

Churches and the Missionary Task: Discipleship

The aim

Missiologists often say, “God’s church doesn’t have a mission. Rather, God’s mission has a church.”  The aim of the Great Commission is to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16-20).  This Great Commission aim is the reason every church exists.  Discipleship is third in the missionary task (entry, evangelism, discipleship, healthy church formation, leadership development, and exit).  While entry and evangelism are essential components of the missionary mandate, the goal is not simply to be present or even to share Jesus only.  The objective is to help believers mature in the faith. 

“A disciple is more than a person who has mastered a set of information, or practices a set of spiritual disciplines and shares the gospel.  Discipleship involves the intentional transformation of heart, mind, affections, will, relationships, and purpose. . . .  The essential tools for discipleship are the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God” (IMB Foundations). 

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The plan

Churches who make long-term commitments to partner with missionaries in the missionary task can play a vital role in the process of disciple-making through these essential tools.   But like anything in life, a goal without a plan to achieve it results in an unrealized goal.  IMB mobilizer D. Ray Davis shares the importance of a healthy plan for these essential tools of discipleship (“The Missionary Task: Making Disciples Who Make Disciples”). 

When it comes to the Word of God, IMB has found that new believers need to grasp three aspects of the Bible—the big picture of the Bible (creation, fall, redemption, consummation); effective Bible study (method); and major themes (e.g., nature of God, sin, holiness, judgment, salvation, etc.). 

As for the Spirit of God, new believers need to know that God’s Spirit alone brings transformation in the believer’s life through the Word of God. Walking in the Spirit is a life-long endeavor for all believers.  “Discipleship must be done in conscious dependence on the power and work of the Holy Spirit” (IMB Foundations). 

Lastly, God uses the people of God collectively through the church to help mature believers.  “Scripture makes it clear that discipleship ordinarily happens in the context of the local church” (IMB Foundations). 

As Davis explains,

“All missionary teams—and church partners—should have a robust, healthy discipleship plan for new believers that includes elements such as baptism, local church membership, and basic spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, worship, fasting, and sharing the gospel. Furthermore, new believers need ongoing training in areas like biblical marriage, parenting, family life, a biblical understanding of work, the church, suffering and persecution, integrity, and a new identity in Christ that supersedes any earthly identity” (Davis, “Making Disciples”).

The end

Every church and every church member is to be engaged in this global disciple-making plan.  While not every member will carry out this plan in the same way, every member has a part to play through means such as praying, going, encouraging, giving, and sending.  Churches working intentionally with long-term missionaries by following their strategy for disciple-making provide great encouragement and movement in fulfilling the Great Commission.  In doing so, the church will be marked not simply by mission activity, but mission identity—disciples who make disciples.

How is your church making disciples both locally and globally so that missions is not an activity of your church but its identity?  I am more than happy to help you in this cause. You can reach me at [email protected]

Churches and the Missionary Task: Evangelism

In the world of missions people rightly ask, “What really does a missionary do?”  In turn, many rightly ask, “What, then, does a short-term mission team do?”  Back in February, I began a series discussing the missionary task which is explained helpfully by the International Mission Board (IMB) through their IMB Foundations Magazine.   

IMB mobilizer D. Ray Davis states, “I’ve noticed a tendency among Christians to think the work of professional missionaries is somehow different from that of churches and their short-term teams. But it’s important to understand that the missionary task is the same for everyone” (“Churches: Essential Partners in the Missionary Task”).  The task of missions is the same for the individual answering the call to the mission field or the local church sending the called to the field. 

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In February, I explained the first component in the missionary task—entry.  To make disciples where disciples do not exist, missionaries must enter among peoples and places.  “Entry is important, but simply being there is not enough,” Davis explains (“Churches”).  This reality leads us to the second component in the missionary task—evangelism. 

Every believer is tasked with sharing his or her faith in Jesus.  Some are more particularly gifted than others, but all are to share.  Missionaries, regardless of their specific jobs, are expected to share Jesus with unbelievers.  There is no Great Commission if evangelism is not part of the task.  While the end goal of disciple-making is not evangelism, it does begin there. 

Davis reminds us that “following the missionary’s evangelism strategy, well-prepared church partners can help spread the gospel in ways that are both winsome and appropriate to the context” (“Churches”).  Sharing the full content of the gospel message appropriate to the language and culture of the unbeliever is essential. Churches partnering with missionaries to evangelize should follow the strategy of the missionary, as they have immersed themselves in the language and culture of their host country and people. 

In all, missionaries and churches must trust that only the Holy Spirit can change a person’s heart (Foundations).  The Spirit of God empowers the people of God to bring witness to those who need God.  Regardless of the strategy of evangelism, only God can open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears to embrace the gospel message.  Thus, missionaries and partnering churches can share Jesus with confidence, knowing that He alone has the ability to bring the dead to life.   

A Lesson Learned Long Ago About Encouragement

Our team packed into a couple of small vehicles and made our way down the pothole filled streets where we would then turn off the paved roads and down the bumpy one-way dirt roads. We traveled these dusty roads until we came to a clearing, where mud huts and grass roofs were scattered around the villages in this West African country.  As the people came out to see who was arriving in their village, they quickly began gathering members from the local Baptist church.  Word had reached them that we were coming. 

Once gathered, we would share Scripture with the church members, offer a word of greeting from the church in the US, and pray for the believers.  We did this same routine repeatedly, spending only a short amount of time at each village.  After many stops, I pulled Stevens aside.  Stevens was a local pastor who worked with our team.  Missionaries came to his village the day he was born, and his witchdoctor father named him after the missionaries that day.    

“Stevens,” I wondered, “are we doing any good by traveling from village to village and staying only a short amount of time?”  His slender 6’6” frame leaned down to me as he insisted with his English accent, “Oh, never underestimate what your encouragement does for our people! It’s huge!”

Light bulb moment!  That’s exactly what Paul is getting at in Acts 14 and 15.  Toward the end of his first missionary journey and the beginning of his second, Paul made it a practice to travel back to the churches previously planted and “strengthen the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22; 15:41).  Why?  Because we all need encouragement. Perhaps like never in recent years has the church needed encouragement in the faith. 

Paul tells these early churches, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  Today is no different.  Life is hard. The fight against sin is hard.  Living for Jesus is hard.  Now throw in the mix challenges like viruses, political turmoil, escalated racial tensions, financial strains, mandated and self-regulated quarantines, and the tragedy of death.  No wonder even the church is weary.    

During it all, the church is still called to the Great Commission. The gospel moves forward even when the world is in a pandemic.  Preachers still preach. Evangelists still share. Missionaries still cross cultures.  The church continues to make disciples.  But in times like this, it’s easy to become discouraged and weary.

Like Paul before us, what pastor might you encourage this week?  What missionary can you contact and pray for that he or she might be “strengthened and encouraged”?  What church can you lift in prayer and then make aware that you did just that?  You and I might be surprised at what a simple word of encouragement and prayer will do for other believers seeking to make disciples of Jesus.  As my friend Stevens says, “Oh, never underestimate what your encouragement does for our people!  It’s huge!”  Go and do likewise.    

Within the Family

One of the largest and strongest horses in the world is the Belgian draft horse.  These horses are so strong that one Belgian draft horse can pull 8,000 pounds.  What an incredible feat.  Apparently, if two stranger Belgian draft horses are harnessed, they can pull 22,000 pounds.  Notice that their combined strength more than doubles their ability.  However, when they train and pull together, these two Belgian draft horses can pull up to 32,000 pounds—four times the amount that they can pull alone.

I recently shared about a mission survey that the Missions Mobilization Team (MMT) of the Kentucky Baptist Convention sent out to our churches.  Our desire was to learn how our KBC churches are engaged in missions and how we can better help them reach KY and the world for Christ.  In my first article detailing the survey results (“We Are Stronger Together”), we focused on two areas: praying and giving.  This last article, I want to share about the results as they pertain to mission engagement locally, nationally, and internationally.

Two-hundred and forty-six churches participated in the survey.  When asked how many churches are engaged in missions locally, 75% said that they are.  Indeed, it is encouraging that KBC churches are beginning in their own Jerusalem as Jesus instructed (Luke 24:48).  As a follow up question, participants were then asked how many partnered or worked locally with a KBC or SBC connection.  Of responses, only 20% of the churches engage locally with KBC or SBC partners. 

Moving our attention to national mission engagement, 46% of participating churches said that they are engaging somewhere missionally nationally.  When asked how many of the churches are partnering with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) for their national mission engagement, only 22% said that they are.    

As we think on a global scale, participants were asked about their mission involvement internationally.  Of responding churches, 57% affirmed that their church is engaging internationally.  However, only 30% of those churches are partnering with the International Mission Board (IMB) or Baptist Global Response (BGR), the Disaster Relief arm of the IMB. 

So, what did we find out from this survey?  For one, our churches are much more engaged locally (75%) than nationally (46%) or even internationally (57%).  However, in their local engagement, they often partner outside of the KBC and SBC family.  Another lesson learned is that our national and international engagement, while closely averaging a combined 50% of churches, is relatively low when it comes to partnering with NAMB or IMB/BGR (only 22% and 30%, respectively).

As I noted in my first article, these churches support the Cooperative Program overwhelmingly at 96%.  Perhaps at that rate we can pull 8,000 pounds for gospel advancement.  However, what if in our partnering we meant not only giving, but our going too?  Maybe instead of pulling 8,000 pounds, we can pull 22,000 or even 32,000 pounds.  When we stay within the family and “pull together” in our praying, giving and going, we can accomplish much more, even in some instances four times as much.  As the Missions Mobilization Team of the KBC, we would love to help your church engage your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world as we “pull together”.     

We Are Stronger Together

If COVID-19 has taught us anything as Southern Baptists, it has taught us that we are stronger together than on our own.  This truth is not new to us, but it has been an unexpected reminder in an otherwise challenging time.  How has COVID-19 taught us that we are stronger together?  Simply put, the Great Commission (GC) continues to move forward despite the crippling effects of a pandemic. 

A couple of months ago the Missions Mobilization Team (MMT) of the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) sent out a survey to churches. The survey’s purpose was to help the MMT learn about the missions involvement of KBC churches and how to better help them reach KY and the world for Christ.  The survey was developed and sent out pre-COVID, but the results only confirm what COVID has reminded us of as Southern Baptists—we are stronger together. 

Two-hundred and forty-six churches participated in the survey.  The first question dealt with what is foundational to the Great Commission—prayer.  Without prayer, the GC falters.  Of survey responses, 51% of the churches said that they have an intentional prayer strategy for the GC.  We know from Acts that the gospel goes out in power as the people of God cry out for the Lord to work mightily through them with the message of Jesus (e.g., Acts 4:23-31).  If we desire GC impact through our churches, prayer is our starting place.

Does your church have an intentional prayer strategy for missions?

As Southern Baptists, along with prayer, the fuel for our GC drive is the Cooperative Program (CP).  Of participating churches, 96% give through CP Missions advancement takes resources; therefore, Southern Baptists in 1925 created the most effective way to pool our resources together through what we call the Cooperative Program. In these uncertain days of a pandemic, SBC leaders have reminded us of the urgency and value of CP giving for ongoing mission advancement. 

Does your church currently support the Cooperative Program?

Celebrating @SBCCP Sunday just a couple of days ago on April 26, IMB President, Paul Chitwood, thanked Southern Baptists on behalf of 3,670 missionaries and their 2,880 children and 300+ stateside staff and families (@DrPaulChitwood).  While we continue to refine our systems and entities from our 175-year existence (12 national entities, 41 state conventions, 1,100 local associations), the driving force behind our cooperation is the Cooperative Program (C. Ashley Clayton, bpnews.net).  

At the forefront of our GC expansion lies our two mission agencies—the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board.  Even in a pandemic, our missionaries remain on the field and continue to serve faithfully.  How can this be so?  The Cooperative Program. 

As a Kentucky Baptist and Southern Baptist family, all we do in missions is fueled by praying and giving.  Because we pray and give cooperatively, thousands of missionaries are all over the globe sharing the good news of Jesus in a time of fear and uncertainty.  The message is simple—Jesus is our only hope in life and death.  Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for praying and giving, particularly in a time when the world has been brought to a halt.  When all around us is uncertain, we are most certainly stronger together. 

We Can Trust God Too Little…

While the days may be uncertain for us, they are not uncertain for God.  In fact, as the Psalmist says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1).  Because God is our very present help in trouble, “we will not fear, though the earth should change” (Ps 46:2), or even if a virus sweeps across the globe with jet-like speed.  As always, but particularly these days, believers are called to demonstrate that their trust is in an all-wise, all-good, all-sovereign God.  Whether the earth changes or the unexpectant engulfs us, God is with us as the Psalmist promises. 

We can trust God with our very lives even when all around us is apparent chaos.  The Psalmist tells us that even if the waters roar and foam and if the mountains quake, God is with us (Ps 46:3).  As the hymn writers so eloquently remind us, “when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay (On Christ the Solid Rock).”   

Hudson Taylor knew of God’s great presence with us in times of trouble.  Taylor, a British missionary to China in the late 1800s, served there for 51 years.  He is the founder of the China Inland Mission.  As a young twenty-one-year-old, he first went to China with the desire to reach the nation with the gospel.  When others were saying it can’t be done, Hudson said it can and will be done by God’s grace.

After spending years there he realized that he needed to recruit others to join him on this task of the evangelization of China.  He went back to his homeland of England in order to find more laborers.  While there he became troubled knowing that the dangers in China were many.  He had almost concluded to not recruit help for fear of sending missionaries to China who might be killed.  However, the Lord pressed upon his heart that it is better to go to China and die as a Christian than for millions of Chinese to die without hearing of Christ.

So, Hudson recruited several to join him in China. Years later when he was older and feebler, he traveled back to England and received word of his greatest fear—many missionaries were being killed for the gospel.  His only option was to trust his life and theirs in the hands of God.  He concluded that whether as a young twenty-one-year-old just heading out to China or a seventy-year-old nearing the end of his life, it is possible to trust God too little, but never possible to trust Him too much (Danny Akin, 10 Who Changed the World).

God is more than enough in your time of trouble.  Indeed, He is a very present help in your trouble.  You can trust Him too little, but you can never trust him too much.  In these uncertain days, let’s trust in our certain God and make sure that we point people to the only secure hope in times of hopelessness—Jesus.   

Churches and the Missionary Task

The Great Commission was not given to a denomination or mission agency.  It was given to the local church.  Thus, churches send their own missionaries (Acts 13).  I am not saying that denominations and mission agencies have no role to play in the Great Commission. They play a vital role if our understanding is that of partnering for greater gospel impact.  After all, as Southern Baptists, we believe we can do more together.  Therefore, we champion cooperative missions. 

So, while we work with sending agencies such as the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB), our churches send missionaries in partnership with these organizations.  If churches are the senders, what exactly are we sending missionaries to do?  In recent years the IMB has helped us better crystallize the task of the missionary.

Many needs often compete for our attention when it comes to missions.  IMB mobilizer D. Ray Davis recognizes, “Let’s be honest, there are a lot of overwhelming needs around the world, and it’s easy to allow needs to dictate and define the work we do” (“Churches: Essential Partners in the Missionary Task”).  

To keep us focused on our God-given responsibility to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20), six components detail the missionary task. Whether through the missionary on the field or the partnering church, the mission should focus along these lines (Davis, “Churches”).  So, if you are the missionary on the field or the church partnering with the missionary, the mission is the same.  These six components of the missionary task include: entry, evangelism, discipleship, church formation, leadership development, and exit. I want to look at the first component in this blog.

  1. Entry:  Finding and engaging a particular people group is the first component.  In short, as the IMB has described it, entry involves finding them, getting to them, and developing an ability to communicate with them

First, finding them involves researching the people group in order to learn culture, levels of evangelization among them, whether any translation of the Bible exists, and if other Great Commission Christians are present.

Second, getting to them requires exploring the political, economic, and religious environment.  Further, exploring access options is critical as most places with unreached people are unreached because they are hard to get to.  Most hard to reach places are hard to reach because missionaries are not welcome.  Thus, missionaries must acquire the necessary skills and resources to enter among a people group. 

Third, developing an ability to communicate with them involves skills that no doubt requires language and cultural learning.   Most hard to reach places will mean missionaries must learn another language besides English!

Churches can play a vital role in the entry level.  They assist by praying that missionaries gain legitimate ways to enter.  Churches can also be a means of providing legitimacy for the missionary’s presence among that people group.  To that aim, churches may partner in this phase through specific mercy needs or platforms, such as businesses or services provided.  

In order to reach the unreached, missionaries are sent by churches to enter among peoples and places that are unreached. Being intentional about entry and partnering carefully together, we can ensure that the gospel not only enters among the unreached but that it remains there.   

The Power of Missions

If you or I were to write the script for the advancement of the gospel after Jesus’s death and resurrection, I dare say it would not unfold quite the same as it did in the book of Acts.  Perhaps we would have sent the disciples out on mission immediately after the resurrection or at least after Jesus’s ascension.  Jesus did not lay out a military strategy that called his early followers to “strike while the iron was hot.”  Rather, Jesus commanded them to wait until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8).  The advancement of the gospel would not rely upon the ingenuity of man, but upon the power of God.  In fact, Jesus promised the power of the Holy Spirit to carry the call of God to the world. 

As Bob Burton notes, “The book of Acts . . . begins with waiting and preparation.  For the first-century church, the measure of the effectiveness on the mission field was directly related to the measure of spiritual preparation—praying, waiting, and expecting” (The Spiritual DNA of a Church on Mission, 10).  He goes on to explain that the church does indeed explode with growth, but only after a time of preparation (10 days of prayer and fasting).  The urgency of the gospel moving mightily through Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the nations begins by preparation through prayer. By waiting and praying. 

Prayer is always instrumental in the expansion of the gospel in Acts.  Burton is correct that “there is always a direct connection between prayer and missions (The Spiritual DNA, 11).  For example, in Acts 3 Peter and John enter the temple area at the time of prayer and heal a man who is born lame.  As this event creates no small commotion, Peter uses it to preach the gospel to the gathered crowd.  This gathering then gains the attention of the religious leaders who arrest Peter and John for preaching Jesus.  In Acts 4 the apostles are threatened with death and then released with the understanding that they have been warned.  They immediately return to the church knowing what is at stake.

They report to the church what had happened and then begin to pray.  They pray not for deliverance from this threat or that Jesus would somehow ease their burden or change their calling.  No, they pray for God-given boldness (Acts 4:29).  As they pray, God physically shakes the room where they have gathered and fills them with the Holy Spirit. Thus, they continue speaking with boldness about the gospel of Jesus (Acts 4:31; 33). 

As we see, “preparation was the foundational missional principle for the church. It all began with a lifestyle of prayer, waiting, and expectation” (The Spiritual DNA, 11).  Oh, that the church would rediscover this principle.  What might God do with the church today that waits and prays?  What might He do with the church that pleads with God to move mightily in and through them by the filling of His Spirit?  He did it then; He can do it again.  If we can help your church in developing intentional prayer for the Great Commission, then please call on us at [email protected].     

You are meant for so much more!

We have all asked the question, “Why did this tragic or hurtful situation occur?”  We have all experienced pain in life and have wondered why us.  But have we ever asked the question, “Why do blessings come our way?”  To ask it more personally, why am I blessed with what I have in life?  Psalm 67 is a prayer of blessing adapted from Numbers 6, where Old Testament priests would speak a word of blessing on the people of Israel. 

Psalm 67:1 prays, “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—Selah” (all references NASB).  The Psalmist is praying for the grace, blessing, and favor of God.  But why is God gracious, and why does He bless and show us favor?  Verse 2 gives us the reason— “that your way may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations.”   

God’s good gifts to His people are not meant to be horded by us, but to be heralded for Him.  We have what we have, and we are where we are in order that we might make God known among the nations.  In fact, Paul told the leading men of Athens, “And He (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).  When we live and where we live are all determined by God’s good design—a design meant to be used to make Him famous around the world.    

Currently, there are 7,103 unreached people groups or 4.5 billion people unreached with the gospel of Jesus.  Unreached means that of the these 7,103 people groups less than 2 percent of the people follow Jesus.  According to the International Mission Board, a people group is the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance (www.peoplegroups.org). 

God’s desire, according to Psalm 67, is that the grace, blessing, and favor He gives us (v 1) is to be used to point all peoples to the salvation of our God (v 2).  How might each of us leverage our lives—the good gifts He has given us—to make much of Jesus where He is not known?  The goal God’s blessing to us and our proclamation of Him is so that “the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You” (v 3).      

God’s praise is meant to be global and He desires to use us for that aim.  Life is meant for more than daily schedules of work, school, running errands, and going to ball practice.  We have received educations, homes, cars, salaries, and retirements for more than our comforts.  “God, our God, blesses us.  God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may fear Him” (v 6b-7). You are meant for so much more.  How, then, will you use the blesses from God to impact the nations for His glory?