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12. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
14. Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
15. Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
16. And Judas the brother of James and Judas Iscariot which also was the traitor.
I want to read about this same call and ordination of the twelve from the gospel of Mark.
14. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him and that he might send them forth to preach.
15. And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.
With those accounts in mind I want us to talk tonight for a few moments at this tremendous event in the life and ministry of our Lord and Savior. If you were on a mission in this world to reach the entire world with the gospel, how would you go about it? Well, if it were in our own times now, there might be all kinds of strategies. We attempt to use television, radio and all kinds of media that could be used in order to spread the gospel. But in the time of Jesus, the most strategic plan that He could possibly make is to gather people around Him whom He could trust and in whom He could bestow gifts of His love and grace and they in turn would preach and also bring others into the work of God, and it would just spread. A venture that would cover the world, but would begin on a hillside in Palestine, with Jesus choosing out of a number of disciples twelve men.
I want us to look at their call. First of all, He spends all night in prayer. I realize that it must have been very important for Jesus to think in terms of whom He would call, what persons He would like to have with Him. But the fact that He spent all night in prayer to God the Father about it and about His work and His mission says to me that this is extremely important; that a decision of this magnitude has to be prepared with a season of prayer that puts you in touch with the divine will of the heavenly Father. I wish we all could understand the importance of spending that kind of time in prayer before we make any kind of decisions, any choices – any decisions of what to do in this world. Because decisions that are going to last and be this important must have the presence and power and the will of God upon us, or else we could make decisions that would not last and would not stand. Even here as Jesus Christ the son of God who knows the hearts of people and He knows all men and he knows evidently from the very beginning that one of the ones He is choosing will become a traitor and he will be unfaithful. And yet, He must choose one like that to fulfill all scripture. So with this great decision weighing upon Him and out of the hundreds and hundreds of disciples by now, He selects and zeros in on twelve.
I want you to notice the nature of their ordination, as Mark put it. He ordained them. They are disciples first, but they became apostles and He ordained them as apostles. These would be messengers who would represent Him and would be sent by Him. And notice there were three parts to the call that He gives to them and that is what I want to talk about.
First of all, he ordained them that they should be with Him. I would like for that to kind of sink in because that point sort of preaches itself. The most important call we ever get is to follow Jesus and be with Him. We may be looking for a great commission to perform some outstanding ministry or task. We may have our eyes on some goals that we want to achieve in this world, but the primary, fundamental, most important call we ever get is to be with Him day and night, to hear His voice, to be in His presence, to learn from Him. And Jesus began what would later be known as the equipping ministry when He started by example and by teaching and by practice to show the way of ministry to these twelve apostles. He equipped them in several different kinds of ways while they were with Him. In the first place, He really loved them. You know, you can’t do very much for people if you don’t love them. His heart was in this, He prayed for them. He taught them in some of the most profound lessons that would be this three and a half years or so with Jesus would be equivalent to more than anybody’s seminary experience. Learning not only the deep profound theological things of the will of the Father and what it meant to really be a disciple and an apostle, but practical things He would send them out. He equipped them by giving them on-the-job training and supervision. It is forever a pattern of how to develop ministry, and it a beautiful pattern. He ordained them first and foremost to be with Him. There are lessons you cannot learn anywhere but in His presence. There is wisdom you can never receive anywhere else but hearing His voice and hearing His teaching. There is power that you can never achieve or come by without having His authority and understanding His divine power at work and His anointing. He ordained them to be with Him. There is no higher calling, there is no greater achievement in this world then to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and to be with Him and have his influence upon our lives.
Secondly, He ordained them as apostles that He might send them forth to preach: If there is any one thing that the Lord intends, it is to get His Word - the good news of the gospel spread abroad. It does not necessarily matter how we do it, it does not matter what style or what approach, but spreading the gospel is everybody’s business and it’s at the very heart of the call of God. Not everybody feels they are called to preach as far as being a pastor or leader in the church, but we all have this call to be with Him and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Inherent in this call is to be sent. That is what the word apostle means - one who is sent, one who represents someone else, one who is approved of God, but who is sent by the Lord and by the church. That is what an apostle is; anybody who is sent forth by the church to push in to new territory and to evangelize and establish new churches. They fill the role and function of an apostle. He ordained them that He might send them forth to preach, to evangelize and spread the good news, to tell people of the good news of the gospel.
He also knew that if they were to do this and be effective and perform the will of the Father, they must go with authority and power, so He ordained them that they would have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils. I wish we could get a glimpse at what this really means and what it means for us in our own day. It seems to me that the power and authority comes from firstly being with Him and then being sent by Him and then in our act of obedience of being sent by Him, then the power and authority comes. There is not much need of anointing someone who is not going to do anything, and won’t be obedient to Christ. It may be that He blesses us like that just to sit around, but where the real power and authority comes is when we are on our way to obey Him and do His will and carry out His commission. That is when the power comes, when you need it, when you are obedient, when you are moving, when you are answering His call and He is sending you forth, that is when it comes.
I teach right now in cycles, about seven different courses in preaching. Today I heard two sermons and this week I’ve heard several from people who are just beginning, and oh, the nerves they have, but they weren’t half as nervous as I was the first time I tried to preach. You know you think you get ready and you have about thirty minutes of sermon and in about five minutes you’re through and you just run out. I was as bad off as the free Pentecostal preacher down in the Mississippi delta years ago when we were just starting out. You could just go in to a radio station and they would sell you a half hour and put you right on the air. The Church of God had a program and this independent preacher kept wanting to go on and nobody would ever give him a chance to preach. Finally, he got and angry and decided he would go and get his own program and he went in and bought thirty minutes and paid cash for the time, and he got on the air and just took off, like his coat tail was on fire, and ninety miles to the first water hole and he preached for about five minutes and he just ran out of soap, he started saying things like “Whew it’s hot in here.” He had a lot of zeal but he didn’t have near the stuff he thought he had. So finally the man at the controls had pity on him and started playing some music in the background and cut him off, and told him it was over. But that was how I felt starting out. You get so nervous and you think well my goodness these butterflies in your stomach and is there anything in this world that will help them get in formation and smooth out. But when you are touched of God and you start to obey and the first time God anoints you and touches you and you feel that authority and that power, that is the most exciting thing in the whole wide world! I wouldn’t take anything in this world for there is no job that is any greater, than having the touch of God the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon you. It comes when you are obeying, moving and being sent out. Amen! You can’t afford to get cocky about it. I remember one time I had preached a sermon a few times and man it worked good every time. It was one of those that you could reach back and turn to that passage and be sure that somebody would be blessed. I took it for granted one time. I thought I had it all figured out. The Lord taught me a lesson. I pulled out that sermon and made the biggest shameful flop you ever heard. I am so thankful that no one had tape recorders then. I would almost pay someone to keep it from playing that sermon in public. I learned one thing; it takes more time preparing yourself than it does preparing the message.
Here is our Lord Jesus, he is about to reach the whole world with His love and grace and He starts off with twelve men and all they have to do is be with Him for a while. And when they are with Him long enough, and they follow Him even on to the cross and they follow Him even on to the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them, from then on they will be sent out in his Name and His authority and His power and they will have this great power that will accompany them as they obey, to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils. This is what God has called His church to do, in all ages and no less in our own time, to heal people, to bring the healing grace and love of God’s wonderful grace and power to the lives of people who are sick and afflicted and hurting in so many different ways and to cast out devils, to declare war upon the forces of evil and powers of darkness, to take the offensive and invade the devil’s territory and to push him back. This is the work to which Jesus Christ calls us to do.
Their names are significant and so revealing and you could do a character sketch on each one of these great apostles, and you could find out the encouragement He placed inside of them, just by the names He gave them. Can you think of a man that is going to be wishy-washy and crumble to pieces and the Lord nicknames him “Peter” or “Rock”? It will take a while before he becomes stable like rock. Two brothers who are fishermen that the Lord will refer to as the “Sons of Thunder.” It will take them awhile to get to that place where the voice of God like thunder sounds through them. There are others there; Matthew a tax collector. I think that’s probably one of the greatest miracles that could ever happen is God converting and calling an IRS representative! Wouldn’t that be great? We ought to pray that happens so that we can see a great miracle in these days. Simon, this man who is such a zealot. Some we don’t know much about. I don’t know if anybody knows anything much about Thaddeus. The point I am making is Jesus Christ calls human beings, men and women. And He gives them an experience that hopefully will encourage them to obey Him and be bold in the work that He is calling them. He knows our weaknesses, He knows our imperfections, and He knows our limitations. Nevertheless, He calls whom He will. That is what Mark says, out of these disciples He called whom He would. And I am glad it is left in his Hands. I remember one time on the council we were discussing certain kinds of people that come up saved and called to preach and we didn’t know whether to give them license or not. And I remember Brother M. H. Kennedy speaking up and saying jokingly “Well, we need to get God to quit calling folks like this.” His point was well made letting the council know that this was God’s business. We don’t tell God whom to call.
They would not all be as great as John or the apostle Peter perhaps. Some would be like Thomas, and have some struggles in his faith. And one would be Judas Iscariot, the traitor. I want to say to you that when God decides to evangelize the whole world, He starts with human beings just like you and me. And he calls us to be with Jesus and when we have been with Him a while, He sends us forth and goes with us with His authority and power on a mission of healing and driving back the powers of Satan. That’s our work, brothers and sisters, and that’s our calling.
Let’s stand and pray. Has God called you? Has He called you to come closer to Him and be with Him? That is first, do you feel a special burden to come closer to God? Come now and pray. God is calling you to be with Him and then He will give you directions and show you what doors He will open.
This is the message I want to leave in your heart tonight: if you draw near to Jesus, you will bring healing and deliverance to others. The Lord will use you. He will bring healing and deliverance to others by your obedience, and through His glorious love and grace. Go in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Go in His love. Go in His joy, full of strength and let the Glory of God rest upon your hearts. Amen.
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