Rev Dr Jose Lagapa
A sermon preached at TLBPC on the Lord’s Day, 22 August 2021
Matthew 9:35–38, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably brought about financial challenges for Bible schools and seminaries so that many are closing down. Another cause is the decreasing number of students enrolling in these schools. The decrease could be due to lack of interest from young people to invest their lives in the work of the ministry because to them there is no financial security for God’s labourers. Another compelling reason from Scripture why there are fewer students entering into Bible Colleges to be trained for fulltime service is the lack of concern of Christians for the work. The call to fulltime service falls on deaf ears.
This lack of concern reveals the state of Christians today. It is not simply a result of our busy life that we neglect to pray or be concerned. It is a manifestation of our hearts which have become so insensitive to the Lord’s burdens and purposes for the people in this world. As God’s people, we should pray for these three things:
For the Continuation of the Lord’s Work
Responding to the prayer request of our Lord will show how we are zealous to continue the work of the Lord. Jesus in Matthew 9:35 “went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom…” He was busy teaching the Word of God to the people and preaching the Gospel to them. He was not occupied with other things in this world. The Lord knew well the importance of the Word for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17). Teaching the doctrines of the Bible is very significant so that man may be able to do His will for how can a man do the will of God if he does not know His Word? Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17). The continuance of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom is of importance “for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:16–17).
As Christians, we are commissioned to go and teach to make disciples of all nations. With this, we need to pray for more labourers who are willing to do this fulltime. We must pray for God to send dedicated men and women who will go to the uttermost part of this earth to fulfil His Great Commission. There is a great need to bring the message across for it is estimated that three billion plus people have yet to hear of the name of Jesus! Billions of people even in places which have Christian witnesses still do not know the saving grace of our Lord and Saviour. Let our generation be not like those in the Old Testament times when God said, “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Ezek 22:30).
For the Compassion of the Lord’s Flock
The healings that Jesus did in His time were for the authentication of the divine nature of His Person, His infallible message and ministry. Nevertheless, those healings were manifestations of God’s mercy and compassion towards the people (Matt 9:35). Jesus’ healing ministry points to a future total restoration of our bodies from any form of physical infirmities. It creates an open door for the gospel to enter into the heart of the one healed. The Holy Spirit convicts the hearts of sinners to see their need of the Great Physician who will give an eternal solution to all physical infirmities.
When we pray for more labourers, it means we are aware of the great importance of pastor-teachers in churches. Jesus saw how the people were as sheep without shepherds (Matt 9:36). They were scattered for there were no pastors to take care of the flock. God’s people are like sheep who need the tender loving care of a shepherd. Many today hop from one church to another seeking for the care they need. We should also avoid a situation found in the prophet Jeremiah’s day when pastors were not taking care of the flock, “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD” (Jer 23:1–2). We cannot but blame ourselves when we do not pray for God to send labourers who will truly shepherd the flock. Are our hearts so cold and hardened towards many who do not have any pastor to take care of their spiritual needs?
For the Conversion of Lost Souls
The Bible plainly tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). These verses reveal to us the truth of the universality of sin. When Jesus talks about the great harvest, He was not talking about material prosperity but pointing to the unlimited need for labourers to help the spiritual harvest which is truly plenteous (Matt 9:37). The countless number of people in every generation who still have not heard the Gospel is a reality. We need to pray for more labourers who will tell them about Jesus Christ because “neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Our prayers will reveal our burden towards the lost. It is indeed a litmus test whether we have genuinely experienced salvation in Christ. Only those who have been truly born again will see the truth of God’s Kingdom and eternal life. A regenerated believer cries before God day and night that his relatives and friends will also receive the Lord Jesus. Let us not wait to feel the terror and horrors of hell to compel us to say, “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:27–28).
The whole world is in need of labourers who will go and preach the gospel to every creature. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and howshall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear withouta preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, Howbeautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings ofgood things!” (Rom 10:14–15).Will you pray?
BATAM MISSIONS REPORT
Shobastian, GAPPI Getsemani
We thank the Lord always for blessing and protecting us here in Batam. We thank God also for supporting our needs through the prayers and gifts from True Lifers. We cannot do anything in return yet, but we continue to pray for all of you too. Here are some of the things that have happened recently.
We thank God that we can resume our offline worship services and fellowship meetings a few weeks ago. The congregation is eager to come back to church. We try our best to follow protection protocol for safety in gathering together. Most of the church members have been vaccinated too. Please continue to pray for us.
We thank God for a newcomer, a widow called Mrs Sirait. She has been worshipping with us for three weeks and comes to our prayer meetings. Please pray that her faith may grow in the Lord.
We thank God for two catechumens—Daniel and Marco. They are both sons of our church members.
We thank God for the Indonesian Bible Study every Sunday led by Murni. There are three regular students every Sunday—one of them is sister Suwantik from Kemaman. Please pray for other Indonesian workers, that they too will take time to join the Indonesian Bible Study.
We thank God that Murni can also conduct a catechism class for sister Suwantik who asked for baptism after she was evangelized by Mrs Wee. She comes from Indonesia and was married to a Buddhist man who has since passed away. Her children go to Kemaman Sunday School. Please pray for her that she will truly believe in the Lord and be ready for baptism.
Please pray for our Bible Study Class on Wednesday nights. I am now teaching the biblical way of worship. It will take several weeks. We thank God that others from other cities can join us through Zoom. Please pray as I prepare every lesson.
I want to thank God for FEBC. I am now studying five subjects online. Thank God for True Life’s support. Please pray for me that I may do well.
1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, S(308899) email@example.com 6254 1287
© 2021 True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church