Series Description: Mission work is at the heart of God. God wants every people group and person to hear about a heavenly Father who loves them and sent His son to die for them. The church is God’s agent to accomplish this goal. The only way this can happen is for the church and individuals to obey the Great Commission. But why are we going backwards? Why is there a “waiting world” of 41% of the global population who have not heard? Power Shifts is a theme we will be covering throughout this series. You will learn how to make personal “power shifts” in your life to help multiply the harvest. These shifts are attitude, actions, alignment, abundance and anointing.
How Can We Multiply the Harvest?
Why are we on planet earth? Jesus gave us two foundational mandates to answer this question.
- First, the Great Commandment: Matt. 22:36-40
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Loving God and loving all human beings is the main focus of our existence and purpose in life.
- Second, the Great Commission: Matt: 28:19-20
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
- The Great Commandment is LOVE – who we become and who we are.
- The Great Commission is what we DO because we love.
As we begin our series today, I’d encourage you to please think deeply about the following statistics:
“Each year, about 17 million die and go into eternity without hearing about a Heavenly Father who loves them and sent His Son to purchase their salvation! That’s equal to 46,575 people per day, 1,940 per hour, 32 per minute, and about one every two seconds!”
For most of us, these are shocking statistics. They scream, “EMERGENCY!” This is the worst human crisis on earth. Many of these people have never even met a Christian. Yet, the very last words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 promise the exact opposite!
Ministry must shift into new harvesting strategies. The “emergency” statistics just quoted represent the unevangelized. These are 3.14 billion people who live in over 7,000 unreached people groups (UPGs) around the world. UPG definition: “A people group that is less than or equal to 2% Evangelical Christians, which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance.”
The statistics cited, represent the greatest humanitarian need and social justice issue confronting the church today.
Traditional missionary methods have enjoyed success. The first Christians were from the Jewish community and for them, accepting Jesus as their Messiah had absolutely nothing to do with cross-cultural outreach. If you are from a Gentile background, you are a believer today because someone stepped across cultural barriers and proclaimed the Gospel. Your salvation is the long-term result of some type of missionary outreach. In the 2,000 years since our Lord gave the Great Commission, His followers have built His Kingdom around the world.
However, we still have huge regions left almost entirely unevangelized. Only God knows the actual number of individuals who remain untouched by the gospel.
Status Quo Missions Won’t Work
The world’s current spiritual environment demands that we account for the mission’s “status quo.” Despite our earnest efforts, statisticians say that over 41% of our global population of 7.6 billion people have yet to hear about the gospel!
Jesus told His disciples,
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Mt. 8:37–38)
The word translated “send out” in the original language actually means “to eject, cast out, drive out, or expel.” That means we are to intercede on behalf of the nations. Believers need to get out of their comfort zones and into service and ministry to others.
By faith and prayer we need to apply the Parable of the Sower and soils, found in Matthew 13:1-23 and Mark 4:8. This gives us hope for multiplied spiritual harvest, 30, 60, and 100-fold.
The lesson of this parable is easy to interpret— the yield depends on the quality of the soil. That’s what we’ve always heard, right? Yet, I recently saw an important point that I had missed before. You see, the good soil was pretty much all the same. Jesus made no distinction in its quality or its preparation. Yet, even in the good soil, the harvest varied. Jesus said, “It produced a crop —a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Mt. 13:8).
What made the difference? Why did some seeds reproduce thirty times, while other seeds reproduced one hundred times?
This question is the focus of this series. God makes this world’s spiritual harvest fields ripen at the correct time. He asks us to participate in the process of clearing obstacles, sowing seeds, and bringing in the crops. In that process, we can hasten or slow the rate at which we are accomplishing the task our Lord gave us—the task of taking the gospel of His Kingdom to every people group in the world.
In biblical days, people farmed by sheer muscle and willpower. They cleared fields, tilled soil, planted seed, harvested crops, and prepared grain— all by hand. In some regions of the world, people still farm this way. But in industrialized nations, modern machinery, fertilizers, hybrid seeds, and irrigation systems have dramatically increased the yield of each acre.
We must willingly follow this example. We need to quit patting ourselves on the back for our thirtyfold harvest and start looking to harvest a hundredfold yield. We must rethink some of our basic ideas about taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Just as farmers have increased their yield by accepting and using new technology, so we too need to be willing to advance to new methodologies. We need to examine and evaluate our methods and open our hearts to new patterns of thinking. I call this making “strategic power shifts.”
More Than a Paradigm Shift
Paradigm is a Greek word that means “a pattern, an outline, a theory, or a perception.” More loosely, it is an assumption or a frame of reference. Paradigm relates to our worldview, and it is the sum of our “mental filters,” through which we define reality.
A paradigm shift, then, is a change in our worldview, which, in turn, affects the way we interpret reality. Here is a scientific example;
Ptolemy pronounced the earth to be the center of the universe in 140 AD. His assertion affected the way people viewed reality.
Copernicus came along in 1543 AD and proclaimed that Ptolemy was wrong—the celestial bodies revolve around the sun. Copernicus was right, but his ideas were initially considered heretical because He placed the sun, not man, at the center of the universe. When acceptance came, this change in thinking generated a paradigm shift in people’s “mental filters.” Long term, this altered the course of physical science and theological understanding. Hence, a power shift resulted.
Paradigm shifts generally precede power shifts. Therefore, if we truly want to experience an exponential release of God’s power, we need to get a handle on His paradigm. “My thoughts are not your thoughts,” God has reminded us, “neither are your ways my ways” (Is. 55:8). We must tune in to His thoughts and His ways if we are to accomplish anything that really matters for eternity.
More Than Revival
Even the great Reformation and the resulting revival did little to build a mission’s emphasis or to release workers into the harvest field. If the Church is ever going to bring completion to the Great Commission we must enlarge our vision to accept His thoughts on missions.
Since Christ gave the church this task, we must accept the fact that it can be done. This will be a huge paradigm shift for many Christians. Since two thousand years of effort have not finished the task, we must face the need for a strategic power shift in thinking and methodology in order to bring completion to the Great Commission.
But we must understand too, that we do not produce strategic power shifts by ourselves. The Holy Spirit births every strategic power shift. We produce them only as we engage ourselves with God and move in partnership with Him, accepting His strategic direction. Then, out of our relationship with Him, we can multiply our spiritual harvest in an exponential manner that brings Him glory.
Strategic Missions Power Shifts
What is a strategic mission’s power shift? It is the employment of prophetic vision, biblical wisdom, and a comprehensive understanding and insight of how to utilize spiritual resources bringing a higher level of productivity. Let’s look at the components of this definition:
- Prophetic Vision: Seeing What God Sees
Most of us are familiar with Proverbs 29:18:
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.”
What this verse literally means is: “Without a continuous redemptive revelation of God’s will, the people of God are allowed to go without direction and are wasting away.”
The bottom line is that, without a clear, ongoing understanding of God’s redemptive nature—a vision of God, what He is doing in our world and our covenant relationship with Him—we lack direction. Without that continuous vision that helps us connect with what He sees and feels, we will waste away.
If we are to avoid being lost in that kind of wasteland, we must study God’s Word and listen to the Holy Spirit. This is how we maintain a clear vision of His redemptive nature and a clear understanding of His priorities for ministry.
- Biblical Wisdom from the Word and the Spirit
Studying the Bible to gain God’s wisdom enables us to become what Scripture calls an “expert builder” or “master builder.” Paul noted,
“By the grace God has given me, I have laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.” (1 Cor. 3:10)
The term “expert builder” in the original Greek is sophos architekton. You can see the logical connection with our word “architect.” An “expert builder” is one who is competent in his profession and applies wisdom and skill to his task.
Of course, in the spiritual realm, we replace human wisdom and skill with scripture and with God’s guidance. The “expert builder” is like the Apostle Paul. He was a believer who saw what the Father was doing by the Word and by the Spirit, and he governed his life and made decisions based on the knowledge and wisdom he gained from that relationship. This is a spiritual skill.
- Comprehensive Understanding and Insight
Biblical vision and wisdom enable us to see “the big picture” of God’s will, thus giving birth to comprehensive understanding and insight. Colossians 1:9 records Paul’s intercession on behalf of the church at Colossae, he noted,
“We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
The word translated as “understanding” is the Greek word sunesis, which means “putting pieces together like a puzzle.” This is the critical factor that enables an individual to intelligently assess a situation.
We need to seek that kind of sunesis and apply God’s contemporary wisdom with an understanding of “the big picture.” We need to see the forest, not just the trees. We need to move beyond our own little corner of the harvest field and gain an understanding of God’s plan for the entire farm, or world.
We must watch trends on a worldwide basis and seek God’s wisdom for how we can exploit them for His glory. We must understand that He is orchestrating the world scene to accomplish His goals because He is heading toward the completion of the Great Commission.
- Increased Productivity from Spiritual Resources
Strategic power shifts should produce an exponential multiplication of the numbers of people finding Christ. Power shifts allow us to discover new ways to use our spiritual resources and to move from the thirtyfold harvest to the hundredfold harvest.
Missing a power shift can actually drop us to a lower level of inertia or even to regression. This type of power shift is a regressive slide.
Did you know that the space shuttle will burn more fuel at lift-off than it will in traveling one million miles through space? That’s because, as it accelerates away from the launch pad, it must overcome inertia and gravity.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. We said earlier that the literal translation of Proverbs 29:18 implies that we must have a continuous redemptive vision of God. That vision must be the source of our spiritual momentum, it enables us to avoid regressing and wasting away.
Conclusion: For Such a Time as This
This phrase, of course, comes from the book of Esther, when Mordecai convinced her to act as a mediator on behalf of the Jewish people, who were facing annihilation at the hands of Haman. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape,” he told his niece, also the king’s wife.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:12-14)
How about us? Are we not “God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood” for such a time as this? (1 Pet. 2:9).
In other words, just like the Jewish population faced extermination in that day, so in our day, millions of individuals all over the world are spiritually perishing. How many of us have the same feelings that Mordecai cautioned Esther against? Perhaps we wrongly feel safe because we live in the comparative physical and spiritual wealth of the Western world. In a similar situation, Mordecai reminded Queen Esther that security does not automatically come because of where we live.
Security, however, is found in obedience to the revealed Word of God. If we refuse to obey, God will raise up another who will do as He requires. All tribes and nations will be represented in heaven, for God has promised it in Matthew 24:14.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (Gr. Ethne or people groups), and then the end will come.”
Yet our refusal to obey may certainly impact the eternal destiny of specific individuals within those people groups. And we will have missed the opportunity and the honor of partnering with Him in an activity or event that takes on miraculous proportions. And in the end, we will also miss the blessing of fellowship with Him as we labor in partnership to fulfill His greatest desire—bringing people into His Kingdom from every people group in the world.
The remainder of this series will outline five overarching strategic power shifts, which I believe will help provide the fuel to launch you and our church into a fresh “power shift” of harvest.
I pray that you will discover new empowerment, enabling you to discover a whole new level of productivity that perhaps you had never dreamed possible. And as you continuously renew your redemptive vision of God through the things you see Him doing around the world, may you know His fellowship in a greater way as you seek to know His thoughts and His ways.