September 12, 2021 | Rick Atchley
Ask for Nations & Generations
The mission is non-negotiable: make disciples. But God gives each church a unique vision of how they are going to pursue the mission. In these two messages Rick will share what that vision looks like for The Hills Church for the next five years. It is time to “Ask for Nations and Generations!”
To win this game, and every coach knows at some point in the game, the other team is going to do things you didn't expect. You're going to have to adapt your strategy. You're going to have to call some audibles.
So in the next five years, have we anticipated everything we could face in the church? Of course not. Will we have to tweak our vision? Of course we will. But we're going to start with a game plan, because it's going to help us have a shared understanding.
This is what we want to do. This is how we can do it together. And this is why it's important that we try to do it. Now, if you've been a member of our church very long, you know that we believe in the power and the value of having a vision.
For many years, our church was guided by what we called our 20/20 vision. But we recognize as 20/20 was growing closer, that it was time to discern what is the next vision going to be. So our elders tasked me with the responsibility of trying to discern what our next vision would be and to lead the process.
That meant a lot of reflecting, a lot of reading, a lot of listening to ministries and leaders in the church. And then you might recall in the fall of 2019, I asked you to pray for me. I was going to go on a retreat and seek the Lord.
Now I'm a prayer walker, and I'll bet in six days I walked about 90 miles. And that first day, all I did was pray and thank the Lord for what he had done in the past in our church through our current vision.
But they, too, I started to seek the Lord. What's the next vision? And I have to tell you, I walked a long way and I heard nothing. And I started to panic. Am I going to go back and everyone's going to say, what's the new vision?
And I must say I got nothing. I didn't want to do that, but then I immediately knew that fear is not from the Lord. So I captured that thought. And the Holy Spirit brought to my mind immediately a verse for Jesus said, If your child asks for a piece of bread, be to give a snake.
We asked for an egg, would you give me a scorpion if you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your father in heaven? We have a good, good father who wants to bless his kids.
So our opinion on my fear and I said, Lord, I don't know what you're going to give me, but I know you're going to give me a new vision for our church because you're a good father. About 20 minutes later, I thought just came into my mind and it was strong and it was clear.
And here it was. Ask for nations and generations. Now, be honest. Could I have read that in the past? Maybe. Had I heard it somewhere before? Perhaps. I don't remember. I just know it wasn't in my mind. And suddenly it was in my mind so powerfully that I knew when I got back to where I was staying
, I was going to have to open up my Bible. So I did. And I said, I'm going to read every verse in the Bible with the word nations or generations in it. And it was a four hour Bible study.
And I knew God had spoken, and I came back to our leadership and said, I believe we're supposed to ask for nations and generations, and we began to pray and discern what would that look like for our church.
Now, what I'm going to do a little bit is I'm going to share with you the seven goals we have for the next five years, four nations and our church. Next week, I'll share with you our go for generations.
But before I get there, I want to do a Bible study. I want to make it clear to you, working through the word of God that God has a heart for the nations. That God's redemptive plan has always focused on nations going all the way back to his call of Abraham.
God said in Genesis 18, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation and all nations on Earth will be blessed through him. So when God wants the redemptive plan, the goal was to bless all the nations. Israel was not and has never been God's favorite nation.
Israel was God's chosen nation to be used to bless all the nations. Israel was to be a light to the nations, put pointed them to the worship of the one true God. Now, this was a constant emphasis in their worship songs.
There's a book in the Old Testament called the Psalms. It has a hundred and fifty songs that ancient Israel used to sing. And throughout that song book is the theme. God loves the nations. Listen at some of these songs.
Psalm 147, Clap your hands. All you nations shout to Garba cries of joy. God reigns over the nations. God is sitting on his holy throne. The nobles of the nations assembled as the people of God of Abraham, for the kings of the Earth belong to God.
He is greatly exalted. Psalm 57. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations. I will sing of you among the peoples. Psalm 72, my all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him, made his name, and do it forever.
May it continue as long as the sun, then all nations will be blessed through him and they will call him bless. You see, they sang that God. Wanted to bless the nations, just as he promised Abraham. And let's keep reading some Eighty-Six all the nations you have made will come and worship before you Lord.
They will bring glory to your name. Psalm 102, the nations will fear the name of the Lord. All the kings of the Earth will revere your glory. And so Israel sang all the time. God has a heart for the nations.
But Israel sang a better song than it lived. Because rather than being a light to the nations. Israel often kept the nations in darkness. About the one true God. Instead of being a people that told the nations about God, Israel too often became a people that kept the nations away from God.
However, God was not going to give up on his desired future. So when the Old Testament God would raise up prophets who would declare the coming of a Messiah, who would reclaim God's desire for the nation. That's very, very important, that the coming of the Messiah wasn't just to forgive individuals of their sins.
The Messiah was coming to reclaim the nations for the purposes of God. Look, for example, at the book of Isaiah. He will judge between the nations and we'll settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. God's future includes a world where there is no more war between nations. Or Isaiah 42. Here is my servant, whom I oppose, my chosen one and whom I delight.
I will put my spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. The mission of the Messiah was not just to save individuals, it was to bless the nations. In Isaiah, 60 nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn or Chapter 66 and die because of what they plan and
done. I'm about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory. So the Messiah is going to come to fulfill a promise made to Abraham through your seed? I'm going to bless all the nations.
Maybe one of the most dramatic prophecies is dead. He's an old man. He's in exile in Babylon and he has a vision. Chapter seven, in my vision at night I looked in there before me was one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the ancient of days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power. All nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
So Jesus, the Messiah is God's agent of redemption, not just for individuals, but for people groups. And by the way, it's very important when you read the word nations in the Bible don't think a land mass with a clear boundary think people, groups.
The word in the Greek is taught. If not, it's where you get the word ethnic or ethnicity. That's what the Bible means. That's why, for example, in a land mass called Kanon, you can have a lot of nations, the parasite's, the biocides, the Emirates, the word nations in the Bible means a particular people with their own language
and their own culture. And Jesus came to fulfill God's promise to Abraham to bless all the ethnic groups in the world. We see it start as soon as he's born. People come from other nations to worship. Baby Jesus.
You see it all through his life in ministry, you see it even at his death. Simon, are African carried this cross, a Roman centurion affirmed he was the son of God. At his death. You see it all through the gospels, Matthew, 12.
In his name, the nations will put their hope, Jesus said, just before he died in Matthew 24. This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
So it's no coincidence then. Why did God choose the day of Pentecost as the day to send the Holy Spirit and birth the church? Well, look what it says in Acts 12 about the day of Pentecost, that people were there from every nation.
From every nation, people were there to hear the first sermon that Jesus is Messiah, died for our sins and is raised from the dead and still. After all that prophetic literature, after three years of being discipled by Jesus.
The first Christians had trouble grasping how big God's vision was. And so for the first few years of the church, they only preach the gospel to one nation. So Peter's on the roof. He's sleeping. He has a dream, he sees a sheet come down with all these animals.
He's hungry. The spirit says kill and eat. He says, no, lord. That's a contradiction in terms, by the way. No, Lord, I'm not going to eat anything unclean. But before that day is over. Peter is at the house of Kornelius, a gentile.
He's preaching about Jesus. The Holy Spirit got tired of sermon was too long. So the Holy Spirit just comes down and baptizes everybody before the sermon is over. And Peter says, I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right
. And the church began to preach to all the nations. It became the new narrative, which was really the old and the only narrative that the Bible ever preached. One of the early songs of the church was in first Timothy three.
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true guardedness brings is great. He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, and was taken up in glory.
From the very start of the Bible, God has made it clear. I want to bless the nations. And he made it more clear at the very end of the Bible. The Bible closes with John's vision of God's promise to Abraham being fulfilled.
Chapter seven of the Revelation. After this, I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language. Standing before the throne and before the lamb. In Chapter 21, you get the vision of the new heaven and the new earth, and it says the glory and honor of
all the nations will be brought in to it. And in the last chapter of the Bible, we read, on each side of the river stood a tree of life, buried the 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations.
See, God is going to get what God longs for. The future, God has announced, is going to come a new earth filled with obedient children from every nation. And it is the responsibility of the church to give the world a glimpse of what's coming.
People should be able to look at the church and see and imagine what the future is going to be like. We are to bring heaven. To Earth. And so before Jesus returned to heaven, he made the mission absolutely clear.
He said all authority and heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples talk, if not of every F midcity. Baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I've commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end
of the age. That's the mission. And the mission is non negotiable. The vision is how for the next five years, the Hills Church is going to ask for the knife. So what I'm going to share with you are the seven audacious, huge goals we believe God has given us for the next five years for our church starting
January twenty twenty two through December twenty. Twenty six. Here we go. Goal number one, we want to see eight hundred and twenty five people surrender to Christ and be baptized. We want to lead with a goal that is absolutely mission centric, to see people make intentional decisions to become followers of Jesus.
Why? Eight hundred and twenty five? Because that's one person a day for five years. It says in the Book of Acts that people were added daily to the kingdom. And we want to see that happen again. We want to see a person today come to Christ.
Now, let me be clear. We don't think baptism is the destination point of discipleship. Baptism is the launching pad. Jesus had baptized them and then teach them how to follow me. But he did say baptized them. In fact, he said specifically, I want you to baptize people from every nation.
If that's what Jesus wants, that's what we want. So you can start praying for your one. You can start praying now that God is going to give you that one person to come to Christ in the next five years.
Goal number two. We want to become a multi-ethnic church. And what does that mean? There's a lot of literature out there, and the accepted definition at this time is this a church is considered to be a multiethnic. If no one ethnic group of that church comprises more than 80 percent of the population of the whole church.
Now, that seems like a pretty low bar to me. But here's the reality. There's only a few percentage of churches in the whole country that meet that standard. We want to meet it and we want to go way past it for two reasons, and here's number one.
Obedience. We want to be obedient to God's clear mandate revealed in the scriptures. He wants a community that reaches and looks like the nations. This is why the New Testament never endorses the mono ethnic church. This is why nobody in the New Testament ever plants are mono ethnic church.
We do so out of obedience, but we also do so out of expedience. Because my friends. We live in a beautiful, diverse county. In Tarrant County, there is no one ethnic group that makes up over 50 percent of the population of the county.
Now, the Bible says in the Book of Acts that you live where you live, when you live for the purpose of God. God put you at this time in this place for his purpose. And we live in a diverse county.
God is bringing the nations to us and mission faithfulness demands that we respond to what God is doing. And one thing that means is that we're going to embrace ethnic diversity at every level of leadership in our church.
We want in five years to be much more ethnically diverse at every level of leadership that we currently are. And that's something else you need to be praying about. Goal number three. We want to be in charge of at least five campuses.
We believe God is calling our church to have a greater imprint across Dallas, Fort Worth than we currently have. It could take the form of new faith communities. It could take the form of existing faith communities that want to join our vision.
But I truly believe that in five years, we will see outposts of our church in places we cannot imagine right now. So we will ask and God will. Reveal. Goal number four. We want to engage members of our church as advocates for 25 asylum seeking families or individuals in our community.
Now, what do I mean by asylum seekers? They are people who have been recognized by our government and have been welcomed into our country because the country they live in is dangerous for them. It might be because of the race, it might be because of the religion.
It might be because of their politics, but our country has welcomed them because it's not safe for them to be where they are. Here's the thing. They come to our country and it's a two to three year process for them to get a work permit.
And during that time, they get no government assistance. So we're going to partner with a Christ centered agency in town called Dash Network to help these families with their physical needs and with the cultural education they need to thrive in their new country.
Let's be clear. Some of these families will be Christians. And the reason they've come here is because it's dangerous for them to stay where they currently are. Some of these families will not be Christians. But we are going to receive them and welcome them with the love of Christ.
I'm happy to tell you that we currently have that all three of our campuses, one couple in training with Dash Network to learn how to be advocates for the asylum seekers. This might be what God's calling you. This might be something your community group wants to do together.
Dish Network is having a gala at the West Fort Worth campus at seven o'clock this Thursday. You might want to attend and learn more about this amazing Christ centered ministry. Goal number five. We want to help launch and or support 15 new multi-ethnic church plants.
And this was one of the most popular initiatives of our last vision. The first disciples pursued Jesus mission by going all over the world and starting churches. And we're going to follow their strategy and. All of these new charges are going to share our strategy.
Of reaching all the nations in their community. And so we're going to start 15 new multi-ethnic churches in the next five years. Goal number six. We want to support the Livingstone International University community through prayer and by sending 20 members to teach, equip and encourage.
Maybe the most audacious thing in our last vision was the idea that we could start a Christian university in East Africa and we did in Bali, Uganda. I've been there several times. It is absolutely amazing. The school was launched.
We've already had graduating classes. The potential is incredible, but the challenges created by the pandemic are formidable. I'll be totally honest. LRU is in a tough place right now because they haven't been able to have students on their campus in over a year.
And it's really strapped their resources. We're going to continue to invest in allyou with our finances, with our people, and most of all, with our prayers. I need you to pray for Livingstone International University and the absolutely incredible potential.
It could have the shape East Africa into the next century. And then go number seven. We want to reach the unreached by launching and supporting five church planning movements and by supporting Bible translation efforts in five new languages.
And we've always been a mission minded church. But what we want to do is shift our focus a bit and concentrate more in the future on those parts of the world for access to Christ is very minimal. Twenty nine percent of our world.
Has little access to Christ, can't go down the street and buy bubble. They can't go to a Christian church without it being dangerous, and yet. Western churches only give one percent of their mission budget to the twenty nine percent of the world that has no access to Christ.
We feel like God is calling us to do more focus there. Watch this video, please. There are seven thousand four hundred and seven unreached people groups in the world. That is over three billion men, women and children who have never even heard of Jesus.
Meanwhile, one hundred and eighty million people in more than two thousand languages are without the Bible Church. We have work to do. So we are committing to reaching the unreached like never before. Ninety five percent of all unreached people groups are located in a part of the world, between 10 degrees latitude and 40 degrees longitude, stretching from
North Africa to Southeast Asia. This is known as the 10 40 window. We feel called to invest significant resources in this part of the world to reach the unreached through church planting and Bible translation. So over the next five years, we will partner with Bible translators to see God's word translated into five new languages.
Communities will be transformed as they finally hear the story of Jesus in their own tongue. And over the next five years, we will launch five church planting movements. Notice, the goal is not five new churches, but five church planting movements.
We are asking God to raise up disciples who will plant churches, who plant churches, and who can't help but multiply because of the power of Jesus that is going to come alive in them. Church. The work ahead is beyond our abilities.
But it is not beyond God's will. So we ask in Jesus name for the unreached to be reached. And. Actually, church, we we began to make this shift a couple of years ago, and so through your generous harvest offerings every fall, we are currently supporting some people in places in the world, and we don't put their pictures
on the website. We don't tell you where they are. I got a picture last spring from one of those people. I know it's glorious on purpose. I can't tell you who it is or where they are or who that people group is, but they took that picture to send to our church.
If you could see their faces, they would be smiling and beaming. Here's why. They've just finished translating the gospel of Matthew into the language of that people for the first time ever. People are able to read about Jesus in their own language, and they wanted to send us that picture to thank us.
Isn't that something? When I got that picture, I jumped up and spiked my Bible. I was so excited. You see, here's the thing. You don't have to wonder if praying for the nations is in the will of God.
Now, you and I pray a lot of prayers where we say, Lord, if this is your will, we don't have to say that. We don't have to wonder if God wants us to reach the nations. I know I've given you a lot to look at.
We've created this website called Nations and Generations dot org, and you can go and look at it and learn more about what we want to do for nations and generations. And I'll admit when you look at it, it's going to be daunting.
But remember this. There's no people group on Earth who are disciples cannot be made who will make more disciples because all authority over all nations belongs to Jesus. He said, you go to every ethnic group because all authority has been given to me, and I will be with you wherever you go.
And so when Landis went out to the mound to see Charlie Brown to the bases were loaded, Charlie Brown said ladies were doomed in line and said, no, Charlie Brown. We're just surrounded by insurmountable opportunities. Well, we are a church trying to attempt the impossible except for this.
Nothing is impossible with God. Remember, the first word God gave me was not nations. The first word God gave me. Was ask. Ask for the nation's. Two of the great spiritual giants of the last century were Abby Simpson and F.P. Maya Maya was visiting Simpson.
You got up early in the morning to go downstairs for his devotions. He tried to be quiet. You don't want to wake anyone up. But when he got down the stairs, he saw the light was already on. In Simpson's study, he was already up.
Spending time with the Lord he picked inside symptom was on his knees. There was a globe in front. He had his finger on a nation and was praying. He turned the globe and put his finger somewhere else and prayed.
And then he watches. The old man put his arms around the whole globe and just began to weep. He he shared God's heart for the nations. And I want us to do the same, I want you to bang your head right now.
God gave me a word. Ask for the nations. That's what we're about to do. I'm going to ask you to pray for a nation. Ask the Holy Spirit right now to put a nation on your heart. It might be a group at your school who've just immigrated to our country.
It might be the nation where you were born or visited on a trip. It might be a people group that lives in your neighborhood. I don't know who. But just ask the Holy Spirit right now to put one particular nation on your heart and start praying for God's blessing to come to them.
A God. Bless the nations. Through Jesus Christ. And help us to want this as much as you do. Help us to become the church that can give the world a glimpse of the future. We pray in Jesus name.