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Plan B

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(7/14) Introduction Ė This past week I received two, "Noís," to two things I was hoping for, "Yesís," to. One was to rent a Church Building in Keysville, and the second was for my dad to go to an assisted living facility in Westminster. For both, I am now praying for back-up plans or that God will give me a Plan B. I had both plan Aís worked out in my mind and knew just how they would go. Plan Bís are back-up plans in case plan Aís donít work out. I think I have for my dad, but ask you to pray for one for a building for us.

Do you know that God doesnít have a Plan B? Over the years I have told the story of the legend of Gabriel, who after Jesus died and rose again and returned to heaven, said to Him, "It must have been tough to go through all that you did. What is your plan to let the world know how much you love them and what you have done to rescue them?" The Lord replied, I have told those who I have taught to go everywhere and tell people about me. Then, those who hear and believe will go everywhere and tell people, and so on, and so on until the whole world hears and has a chance to believe." Gabriel is to have replied, "But, what if they falter, and what if they donít complete the mission, what will you do then?" To which Jesus replied, "I have no other plan. I am counting on them." There is no Plan B.

2000 years later, there still is no other plan. Godís only plan is to rescue people and then have rescued people to go and tell lost people how to be rescued and then those who are rescued will tell people how to be rescued. There is no Plan B.

Sadly, we have lost sight of Plan A. We have re-interpreted Plan A, to going to a building once a week to sing and give and listen and then go home until next week when we will return to the building to sing, give and listen and go home until the next week when we will repeat the process. Success is measured by how many people come to the building each week. Our goal is to avoid doing things we shouldnít do anymore because we have been rescued. But few will leave the buildings dreaming how to show compassion or about telling people how to be rescued.

On April 15th 1912, The Ocean Liner Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. 1500 of the 2200 passengers of the Titanic died in the icy waters. The tragedy is that many of them did not have to die. Many of the twenty lifeboats were only half full when they launched away from the sinking ship. Most of those who died in the water did not drown, they froze to death. The people in the lifeboats heard the screams and the cries of the people but would not go back and get them for fear of capsizing. Only one life boat went back but it was mostly too late, for only six people were rescued. Those who were already saved didnít go back for the dying. We are surrounded by dying people and we are their only link to Jesus. And there is no Plan B. Turn to Matthew 10 and letís notice as plan A takes shape. Notice:

I. The Men Ė These were 12 Ordinary Men- (Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-15), not Magna Cum Laude graduates from an Ivy League school, or Forbes 500 guys. When our Lord began His ministry, He chose 12 ordinary men, blue collar working men, from a broad spectrum of men, to disciple. He called them to leave their jobs and to follow Him as He taught them and trained them to carry on His ministry. Mark 3:13-15 says it like this, "And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:" Now others also traveled with them but He would concentrate His time with these 12 guys. His expectations were that these would then, in turn, pour themselves into others, who would pour themselves into others, ad infinitum. By the way, though I cannot adequately explain it, He wanted you (Mark 3:13). He chose you; an ordinary person; in fact, Paul says look at all of us, we are not the brightest, or the strongest, or the most popular people. God chose us, just baseline ordinary people to show others what God has done and is doing (1 Cor. 1:26-31). He had someone to tell you about Him so He could use you to tell others about Him. He reminds us in John 15:16, we did not choose Him but He chose us and appointed us to go and bear fruit and that, that fruit should remain. He did not choose you to simply occupy a chair or a pew on Sunday Morning but to fulfill Plan A, because there is no Plan B.

In Chapter 9:35-38 of Matthewís gospel, we have the chance to see what Jesus sees, and to feel what Jesus feels as He looks at the 7 plus Billion people on Planet earth. He sees the Sick, the Stressed, the Scattered, the Shepherd-less, and the Separated from God who are destined to perish and be forever lost and ruined unless we can reach them with the Gospel. The images of these people cause Him to be distressed in His bowels. He is moved with compassion. The scriptures confirm that He loves His world and doesnít want any to be lost (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:1-5). That is why He left heaven and came to us. That is why He ministered and touched the untouchables and preached grace and forgiveness and the Good News of Godís Kingdom. The Reason He died and rose again is because of His great compassion. And then He shares a prayer request which is the desire of His heart; that is, we are to pray for more people who will care about the lost because there is no plan B. But that is a dangerous prayer to pray, for God may well send you on a mission trip.

II. The Mission Ė Reach the Lost Sheep in Israel (Matt. 10:5-6). The 12 had been with Jesus for some amount of time, exactly how long at this point I am not sure, but long enough to hear the Sermon on the Mount and attend a wedding and see water changed to wine and watch Him cast the money changers out of the temple (John 2 and Matthew 8-9) and to watch Him display compassion and preach Godís Good News. They have watched Him raise the dead, deliver the demoniacs, cleanse lepers, heal the paralyzed, Gentiles and Samaritans ministered to, storms calmed, sinners received, citizens enraged by His grace, and hypocrites exposed. Now He sends them out on a short term Mission trip as part of their training and to help get the word out about the King.

Notice that He instructs them to go only to the lost in Israel. He specifically says to not go out of country. The question is, "Why?" Doesnít the scriptures say that He loves the world and isnít the Great Commission all about reaching the entire world? The answer is, "yes, of course it is." There are two reasons why He instructs them to only go to Israel here.

A. Because this is a Short Term Training Mission trip. This may have been only a few weeks or a month. There simply wasnít enough time at this point to go into the whole world. Luke 9:6-10 implies that there was a time and a place to meet up and to share their experiences, just as it would be a short time later when Jesus would send 70 more out in teams of two to do the same thing and then to meet up at a place and time and share how it went in Luke 10. Perhaps these 12 became some of the team leaders for the 70. This was a targeted evangelistic event. Like holding VBS or Revival services for your community or town, or county. All are welcome to attend, but only the town or community is targeted. For that week or two or month.

By the way, everyone, no exceptions, should consider a short term mission trip. You donít have to wait on the pastorís approval and you donít have to go out of country. You can Google Appalachian Missions which ministers to poor people in the Appalachians from New York to Alabama, or Good Goers which is specifically designed to minister to widows and orphans both in the U.S.A. and globally as James 1:27 says, or Habitat for Humanity or any number of state side ministries. Or plan to go with Debbie and me to Mexico, or to China with Faye. You need to see real poverty and see the lost that breaks our Lordís heart. You need to touch the lost.

B. Because just like Jesus, who was born a Jew and spent the majority of His ministry in Israel, making sure that the Jews had first opportunity to receive the Gospel was priority. The Jews were chosen to be the first conduits of the gospel. Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria that Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). God chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be in covenant relationship with Him. He would give them His words, and His promises, and His blessings and they were to share that with the world. God told Abraham that the whole world was to be blessed through his descendants (Gen. 12;3; 18:8; 22:18; 26:4; Cp. Eph. 2:11ff) Listen to Isaiah 29:5-6, "And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, And My God shall be My strength), 6 Indeed He says, ĎIt is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.í" (cp. Also Isaiah 43:8-12) The Bible came to us from Genesis to Revelation through the Jews, The Covenants came to us through the Jews, the Messiah came to us through the Jews, the message of Grace came to us through these 12 men who followed plan A and who were Jews. Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek," (Rom. 1:16). Paul made it his practice to always find and speak to the Jews in the town first. He as well as these 12 would remind them of the promises of God in their scriptures and tell them that Jesus is the prophesied King and He is here and they needed to repent and receive the promised King and once again be the light and salt that God had chosen Israel to be in the world.

III. The Method Ė Show and Tell (Matt. 10:7-8). You remember that donít you? First grade? Cause back in the day we didnít have pre-school or kindergarten.

A. They had a specific message to tell, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Mark 6:12 adds that they preached that men should repent. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and men should repent is the same message that Jesus and John the Baptist preached (Matt. 4:17; Matt. 3:2). In essence it means that the prophesied Messiah is here. The Kingdom is about the presence of a King. To Israel, He is the King of Glory, The King of Righteousness, and the King of Peace, the King who will bring judgment and make things new. To be ready for the King meant that they needed to repent and allow God to rule and reign in their lives. The Kingís presence was the good news that brought hope of peace, deliverance, forgiveness and grace.

B. They had a specific ministry to do. They were to heal the sick and have compassion on the hurting, helpless, and hopeless people. They were to demonstrate that God cares so very much for the sick, the stressed, the scattered, the shepherd-less, and the people who are separated from God. They were to seek out and show compassion to those rejected by society. They were to love the unlovely the same way God loved them.

C. Today, things are only slightly different.

1. Our message is only a little different. The King has gone away for a while but will return. In the mean time we must let people know that the King sacrificed Himself for them and died and rose again so they could be forgiven and have eternal life. If they wait until He returns it will be too late, or if they die without Him it will be too bad. They must repent now and receive the King to reign in their hearts. That is Plan A, and class, there is no Plan B.

2. Our compassion must remain the same. We must seek out and give help to the hurting, the helpless, and the hopeless. Thatís why some of you should think about doing an addictions recovery ministry. Some of you should think about a ministry to widows or orphans. Some of you should think about a ministry to the divorced, or to the single parent, or to teen agers, or to children and more. Do not wait for the pastor to do it.

IV. The Miracles. As much as I hate to, I must stop and address the question that will inevitably be asked, "Do you believe that God still heals today? The answer is "yes," and, "no." Sometimes God heals supernaturally, and sometimes He doesnít. When He does, it is always in answer to prayer. When He doesnít, it is always in answer to prayer. I have prayed for the sick and they did not recover, even though some had super strong faith. I have prayed for some and they did recover and Drs. have been baffled. But this text isnít about answer to prayer, it is a command for people who have received extraordinary power, to touch and alter the natural course of disease or infirmity or to overpower the demonic regardless of oneís faith, and to break up funerals by bringing the dead back to life. These 12 and then the seventy would be granted this supernatural ability to do what Jesus did.

But here is what you must understand and please listen closely. I do not believe that anyone has this ability to touch anyone and heal at will today. I believe it was temporary and here is why.

A. Healings and miracles were always affirming that God was speaking. They only occurred at 3 specific times in History. Moses, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and the Apostles. There is very little in the interims of these times.

B. The healings that Jesus did were consistent of what Isaiah said would be characteristic of the Kingdom when the King arrived. Isaiah 35:3-5 says, "Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you."5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing." 29:18, "In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness." Peter tells the Jews, that God confirmed that Jesus is His Son by His miracles (Acts 2:22).

C. Jesus gave them power to raise the dead. I do not know of anyone since Paul who has raised the dead. Do you? Are any of the TV guys breaking up funerals? I donít think so.

D. The scriptures imply that by the time that Paul and Peter died, that few miracles of this kind were taking place. Hebrews 2:3-4 says, " how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? God confirmed to us. He is not confirming that the same way now. This is speaking of what happened in the past, as being different from the present. Consider, that Paul, himself, suffered with bad eyes (Gal. 4:15; 6:1) Timothy had a stomach disorder (1 Tim. 5:23), and Paul had to leave his friend and companion Trophimus at Miletus because he was too sick to travel (2 Tim. 4:20). All implying that Godís word and Gospel had been established, and there was no need to affirm with miracles.

E. The Gospel is about the Hope that is ours after death, and the peace and grace that is ours before death, not about good health. Is healing part of the atonement? Yes! But not until the resurrection. That is what Romans 8:18-23 says. Until then we will age, lose our sight, lose our hearing, lose our hair, lose our teeth, lose our figures, and we will be susceptible to cancer and disease and decay. Everyone, who Jesus or the 12 healed or raised from the dead, got sick and died again. There is no man who has the power to touch and heal a person at will, or raise the dead otherwise they would chase ambulances, invade the hospitals and funeral homes and find people of faith. Should we pray for the sick? James 5 says absolutely yes. But is physical healing always Godís will? No.

F. Summary, Does God answer prayers and heal some? Yes. Will I continue to pray for the sick? Yes. Will they all be healed? Yes. Just not this side of heaven. But can we minister grace, love, hope, and peace to the sick and hurting? Yes, and we are obligated to do that very thing.

V. The Money Ė You have been patient but I have just a few more things to share. These 12 needed to learn a lesson that you need to learn and I had the privilege to learn over the course of my walk with God. "Godís work done Godís way will never lack Godís supply," so said 19th century missionary Hudson Taylor (Matt. 10:8b-11), and so experienced George Mueller. These men were to take absolutely nothing but the cloths on their back (remember this is a short term mission trip). They were to take no money, no coupons, no sack lunch, no extra shirts or shoes. They were to rely totally on Godís provision through Godís people. And God would provide. I hear so many people say, "I canít go on a mission trip because it is too expensive, I donít have the money." That is always the wrong place to start. The place to start is, "Is there any good reason for me not to go?" If not, God will provide the money through His people. This is Matthew 6:33 in reality. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all you need will be supplied. Paul said, My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). David said, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (Ps. 23:1). For this short term trip Jesus wanted these 12 to learn that if they trusted and obeyed God, He would take care of them. And folks, that has never changed. He has taken care of me and everyone who has ever gone on a mission trip with us. Some of you have been designated to be the givers of blessings and some of you have been chosen to be the blessed. Letís stop here and pick up with the rest of chapter 10 next week. (Never charge!)

VI. Summary- God has a Plan A to Rescue people and then use those He rescued to rescue others. That plan is to show and tell His compassion and grace to those who are hurting, helpless, and hopeless. This isnít for some of His followers but for all. You donít need to wait, you must not wait for someone in the church to start a ministry. You need to start now, where you are seated. You need to ask, who are the hurting that God wants me to touch and encourage, to pray for, to help, and to tell about Jesus. Some churches have signs by their entrances that read as you enter, "Enter to Worship," and as you leave, they read, "You are now entering your Mission field."

Those of you who are business men, what if you said to every customer, "I am a man or woman who believes in prayer, and I pray for my customers, and I want to pray for you. Is there something specific I can pray about for you?" Do you think that would open any opportunities to talk about Jesus? What if you put your hand on their shoulder and prayed for them at that moment? Some of you need to commit now, to going on a Short term mission trip either in the USA or abroad because with God, there is no Plan B. Some of you need to give your whole life to Jesus Christ today.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman