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Sermon Outlines

State Goal: $1.7 million

Adapted from a sermon provided by Steve James, Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Lake Charles

Loving People Like Jesus Did

“Then Jesus went about all the cities, villages…But when He saw the multitudes, (the people) He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” (Matthew 9:35-38 NKJV)

  1. Intro
    1. Illustration: According to history, Rear Admiral Robert Perry is the first explorer credited with setting foot on the North Pole. As he was heading for the North Pole on one of his expeditions, there was a certain destination he hoped to reach by the end of the day. After a long day on the dog sled, he checked his latitude and, to his amazement, discovered that he was farther South of his destination than when he started even though he had been traveling North all day. What happened was he had been traveling on a gigantic ice flow and the ocean current was pulling the ice flow South faster than he was traveling North. Even though Admiral Perry thought he was heading in the right direction, he was getting farther and farther away from the goal.
    2. There are a lot of churches just like Robert Perry – moving in many directions at a breakneck speed.
      1. Involved in many programs.
      2. Attempting many tasks.
      3. But getting farther and farther away from the goal that Jesus had in mind for His church.
    3. There are many good things, necessary things, that we should do.
      1. We should be faithful in our devotional life – prayer and Bible study – so that we might excel and mature in our faith.
      2. We should be good stewards and give of our time, talent, and tithe in order to expand the ministry of our faith.
      3. We should preach and teach, so that we might explain the message of our faith.
      4. But above all of that, we should be going out and telling people about Jesus.
  2. The ministry Jesus supplied “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages….” (Matthew 9:35a NKJV)
    1. While Jesus was on earth, He literally poured Himself out in ministering to others.
      1. The historian Josephus tells us that, at the time this was written, there were over 200 towns and villages just in the region of Galilee.
      2. Galilee was an area about 40 miles wide and about 70 miles long.
      3. So, when the Bible says that Jesus went about all the cities and villages, He was covering 2,800 square miles by foot.
    2. He was going from city to city, village to village, hamlet to hamlet, house to house ministering to the people.
      1. Josephus goes on to say, by conservative estimations, that in the 2,800 square mile radius, there were 3 million people.
    3. Now, what was true of Jesus is true of me and you. He could not get to everybody.
      1. Even Jesus could not minister to everybody.
      2. Even though He could not get to everybody, He was willing to get to anybody, whether they were a somebody or a nobody, if they needed Him.
    4. Jesus did not wait for people to come to church. Jesus took the church to the people.
      1. He went from city to city, village to village, hamlet to hamlet, house to house.
    5. We come to church to worship. We leave the church to work.
      1. You don’t do the work of the church in the church. Work is in the fields.
      2. We don’t need to wait for people to come to church. We need to take the church to the people.
  3. The misery Jesus saw: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 NKJV)
    1. Jesus sees people the way people really are.
      1. Many people come to church with their “Sunday Game Face.”
      2. To look at you, you would think that you have it all together.
    2. Yet, many of you have heart aches and hurts and wounds.
      1. For some, your marriages are about gone.
      2. For others your children are rebellious.
      3. You may have a sickness stealing your health.
      4. For some, there are financial pressures.
      5. For some, you’re about to lose your job.
    3. Jesus sees you as you really are.
      1. He looks past your face and sees your fear.
      2. He can look in your heart and see your hurt.
    4. When the Pharisees looked at the multitude all they saw was a crowd of people. When Jesus looked at a multitude what did He see?
      1. He saw sheep that were hurting. “…they were weary”
        1. The word, “weary” means, “to filet or to skin, mangled, ripped apart.”
        2. Everybody has hurts. Everybody has some problems.
      2. He saw sheep that were helpless “… scattered…”
        1. The word, “scattered” means, “to lie on your back unable to get up because of a mortal wound.”
        2. Jesus looked out over the crowds and he saw people who had fallen down and couldn’t get up.
        3. All around you there are people down for the count. They are lying flat on their back and they can’t move.
      3. He saw sheep that were hopeless “…sheep having no shepherd.”
        1. Do you know what a lost person is like? They are like a sheep without a shepherd.
        2. Sheep without a shepherd are not just lost, they are doomed. They are hopeless.
    5. When Jesus saw people who He knew were lost, hurting, helpless and hopeless, “…He was moved with compassion for them…”
      1. Compassion is the missing jewel in the crown of the modern-day church.
      2. We will never care for people the way that Jesus cared for people until we see people the way Jesus saw people.
    6. Illustration: On September 11, 1992 one of the most unusual parking tickets ever given by a police officer was given on Peru Street in South Central Los Angeles, California at 9:45 am. An officer approached a Cadillac that was illegally parked. There was a man sitting in the driver’s seat looking straight ahead. The officer got out his ticket book and began to issue a ticket. The driver gave no indication that he objected to that ticket. The officer finished writing and since the man’s car window was down, the officer placed the ticket on the dashboard of the car and said, “Have a good day.” The driver never said one word. The reason the man in the car didn’t say anything: he was dead, sitting there both hands on the steering wheel, staring straight ahead. (Like some of you are looking at me right now.)
      1. Here is a police officer who wrote a ticket, spoke to the man, stuck a ticket within three inches of the man’s face, walked away, and didn’t even know the man was dead.
      2. You and I walk right by people every day who are spiritually dead.
        1. We say, “Good morning. How are you doing?” and they are dead, and we have no compassion for them.
    7. The reason we don’t go out in the fields looking for hurting, hopeless, helpless people?
      1. We don’t see people as they really are.
      2. They are spiritually dead.
  4. The ministers Jesus seeks “…the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38 NKJV)
    1. Two thousand years ago, Jesus said that the harvest truly is plentiful. What do you think it’s like now?
      1. We are approaching 8 billion people on the planet and most of them know nothing about Jesus.
      2. America is referred to now as a “post-Christian” nation.
      3. In Louisiana, is it estimated that over half of our population of 4 million people do not have a personal relationship with Christ.
    2. What does the Lord tell us to do about it? He calls us to prayer. “Therefore pray….”
      1. Jesus doesn’t tell us to pray for the lost. He says, “Pray for the laborers.”
      2. Jesus doesn’t say, “Pray for the harvest.” He says, “Pray for the harvesters.”
      3. Jesus doesn’t ask us to pray for the sheep. He asks us to pray for the shepherds.
    3. Every Christian has been commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ to pray this prayer.
      1. Every one of us should be praying, “Oh, God would you send laborers into the harvest.”
      2. Every Christian should be the answer to that prayer.
      3. Are we being hypocritical if we pray, “Oh, God send laborers into the harvest” and then we’re not willing to go?
    4. The problem is not the size of the harvest. The problem is with the lack of the harvesters.
      1. Illustration: A father told his young son to get ready because they were going to the mall with mom. The son said, “I ain’t going.” The dad replied, “Son, using the word, ‘ain’t’ isn’t good English. He sat down by his son and explained, “Listen to me. You need to understand this. 1st person singular is I am not going. 2nd person singular, is you are not going. 3rd person singular is he is not going. When you’re talking about more than one person it’s 1st person plural, we are not going. 2nd person plural, you are not going. 3rd person plural, they are not going. Does this make sense?” “Yes, sir,” his son replied, “looks like ain’t nobody going.”
  5. Conclusion
    1. Whether it’s next door or across the sea, the problem is not with the harvest. The problem is with the harvesters. There are not enough people going, and part of the reason why may be we’re not loving people like Jesus loved people.
    2. When we see what Jesus saw:
      1. We see people who are hurting, helpless and hopeless.
      2. We see them as lost, doomed and dying regardless of their outward appearance.
    3. When we see as Jesus sees we’ll go nearby, or wherever He leads. And as we go and love people, the harvest will be great.

“We must go to the nearby towns so that I can tell the good news to these people. This is why I have come.” – Mark 1:38

The Mission Starts Here

The population of Louisiana changes every day, but the 2020 census reveals that there are 4,657,757 people living in Louisiana. These are our neighbors. On average, 43,000 people die every year in Louisiana, or 118 every day. The numbers were up in 2020 to 56,000 people (153/day). These are our neighbors. We have identified 33 municipalities in Louisiana with a population of greater than 3,000 that have no Southern Baptist witness in them. These are our neighbors. These are our nearby towns in the language of the text.

This text gives us a wonderful example from our Lord. We want to join Him in being on mission to those NEARBY. How do we do that? What are the principles of going to the nearby towns of Louisiana?

  1. Praying prepares us for the mission.

Go back to verse 35 and observe what Jesus is doing immediately before He made the pronouncement of verse 38. We ought not miss the connection between Jesus’ praying and Jesus’ pronouncement. Every time I read in the Gospels of Jesus praying, I am convicted that if Jesus needed to pray, how much more do I need to pray?

  • When we pray, we gain power. Our greatest resource in evangelism is the Holy Spirit going before us.
  • When we pray, we gain perspective. Again, don’t miss the connection between Jesus’ praying and Jesus’ pronouncement of going to preach. This is not what the disciples were asking Him to do, but He knew it was the greater need.
  • When we pray, we gain passion. We have been asked recently to engage in an evangelism effort called “Who’s Your One?” One of the advantages of choosing a “one” is beginning to pray for that “one.” Praying specifically for a person or one nearby town helps us to have great passion for that one.

Charles Spurgeon said, “It is extraordinary power from God, not talent, that wins the day. It is extraordinary spiritual unction not extraordinary mental power, that we need. Mental power may fill a chapel, but spiritual power fills the church with soul anguish. Mental power may gather a large congregation, but only spiritual power will save souls. What we need is spiritual power.” This is why Spurgeon had people praying for him in a so-called “power room” while he preached.

  1. Planning propels our mission.

Jesus announced that they were going to the nearby towns. This speaks volumes to the plan. Jesus’ disciples came to Him with the announcement that “Everyone is looking for you.” They were looking for Jesus because of the healings He had already performed in His early ministry. Surely, the crowd wanted more of that. But, Jesus knew that they needed more than just signs and wonders.

Planning helps us to choose the best over the good. God has had a plan since the beginning. God’s plan was set before the foundations of the world, but at the right time, God sent forth Jesus, born of a woman, born under the law. (Galatians 4:4-5) Planning has always been a part of propelling the Gospel forward. Why would that be any different today?

As a pastor, my churches always did better with a plan. We can say that we want to reach more people, but without a plan, we rarely do. What is your plan for reaching those nearby?

  1. Preaching the Gospel provides our mission.

Jesus healed the sick, drove out demons, fed the multitudes, and performed a whole host of other miracles, but His primary mission was to preach the good news. This must be our primary mission.

The Apostle Paul embodied this primary mission as is recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:2. “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Our message is not about a good man, who did some good works, performed some astonishing miracles, and delivered a moral message. But rather, our message is of Him crucified—for our sins. Billy Graham was once asked about the difference between preaching in the 1950’s and now. Here is what he said. “Nothing has really changed in terms of the needs of people. Whenever or whatever you preach, you must remind them of their sin, speak to them about Heaven and Hell, show them to the cross, and urge them to come to the Savior.”

St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” Two things are problematic here. First, there is no historical record that St. Francis said these words. Second, this is bad theology. The church must preach the Gospel, and that always means to use words.

  1. People prioritize our mission.

Jesus said, “. . . so that I can tell the good news to these people.” People were in those nearby villages. People are in our nearby cities, towns, and villages. We must never lose sight that people are our mission. People with souls. People who will die and go to Heaven or who will die and go to Hell. 118 people die every day in Louisiana. Some will go to Heaven and some will go to Hell. Our mission is not to pad our statistics. Our mission is people. Our mission is not to gain notoriety from our denomination. Our mission is people. Focusing on the people in Louisiana prioritizes our mission.

On January 29, 2014, a snowstorm locked up the South. People were stranded on the interstate. Children were stranded at school. This was the scene in Birmingham. A particular neurosurgeon, Zenko Hrynkiw, was at one hospital when he was called to another hospital six miles away to perform a life-saving surgery. He started to drive, but quickly that proved to be impossible. He had to walk nearly the whole six miles. He walked in, briefly talked to the family, scrubbed up, and completed the surgery, saving the man’s life.

In an interview following the surgery, the doctor said, “I don’t know what the big deal is. The patient was going to die, and that wasn’t going to happen on my shift.”

Church, people are dying and going to hell. And our question has to be, “How will we be content with that happening on our shift?”

  1. Purpose preserves our mission.

Jesus knew His purpose. This one verse closes with a succinct summary of Jesus’ purpose. “This is why I have come.” Jesus echoed this purpose near the end of His life. Luke recorded His words as He began to make His way to Jerusalem for the last week of His life. To Zacchaeus, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) And then, on the cross, Jesus declared the completion of His purpose with just three words, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus completed the purpose for which He came.

Knowing our purpose preserves us in life’s most difficult days. Knowing our purpose sustains us in our mission when the world pulls us in so many different directions.

Former Louisiana pastor, John Avant tells this story in his book, “The Passion Promise.”

During the Desert Storm war, Colonel William Post was charged with receiving the massive amounts of supplies for the ground forces. This included tons of food that arrived daily.

One day, the Pentagon sent Colonel Post a message inquiring about forty cases of grape jelly that were missing. Post dispatched an aide to find the missing jelly. A day or two later, he reported back that the jelly was nowhere to be found. Post sent that information on to the Pentagon and assumed that was the end of it. Wrong.

The higher ups in Washington kept badgering Post about the missing jelly. They would not be able to close the books on that month without locating those cases of jelly. It had to be found.

At this point, Col. Post sent this message to the Pentagon: “Sirs: you must decide. I can dispatch the entire army to find your missing jelly, or I can kick Saddam out of Kuwait. But not both.” He’s still waiting on a reply.

John Avant writes, “I have a jar of grape jelly sitting on my desk. It’s great stuff, but I’ll never eat it. It’s there to remind me that there are countless things in this world that look good to me and may even be good. But they’re just grape jelly! They are not worthy to be my passion or my master.”

Won’t you recommit today to being an on purpose, on mission follower of Jesus? Pray harder, plan better, preach the good news, love people, fulfill your purpose as long as God gives you breath.

The Needs Nearby

Mark 1:38 (CEV), “Jesus replied, “We must go to the nearby towns, so that I can tell the good news to those people. This is why I have come.”

  1. For Jesus, the needs nearby were personal
    1. Jesus said “So that I can tell the good news …”
    2. Reaching those nearby is not someone else’s job, it is ours. It’s personal.
    3. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world.” “You are the salt of the earth.”
  2. Because the needs were personal, going nearby was a priority
    1. Jesus said “We must go.”
    2. Involves a sense of urgency.
    3. The current condition of our culture demands immediate action.
  3. Jesus knew the place He should begin his ministry, “the nearby towns.”
    1. We have a place to start.
    2. Don’t need to wait for a mission trip.
    3. Ultimate goal is the ends of the earth – but it starts nearby.
  4. Reaching those nearby was part of God’s purpose, “this is why I have come.”
    1. One of life’s oldest questions is “Why am I here?”
    2. Part of the reason you’re still here is to be salt and light to those nearby.
    3. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. This must be our purpose as well.

No matter where you live, in our largest cities or smallest towns, there are people who need to know Jesus. Reaching Louisiana begins by going nearby and meeting the needs next door.