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Importance of Perseverance - Japan

Updated: Jan 16

[This is a lesson from a small group study on missions, developed by a home group from The Summit Church of Little Rock, which you can find here: https://www.missionsnow.net/post/small-group-study-on-missions .]


Imagine what it would be like to be a missionary in Japan. According to the Joshua Project, there are over 123 million people in Japan, and over 120 million (98%) are unreached. The evangelical annual growth rate is -0.4% vs. the global rate of +2.6%.


Read the following article, “Why Japan is a Graveyard for Missions”: https://abwe.org/blog/why-japan-graveyard-missions/


It’s not hard to imagine the frustration that missionaries in Japan must feel. Just think of the sacrifices they have made, years of work, fasting and praying… with very little to show for it.


Discuss how the frustrating experience of missionaries in Japan is relevant to everyone involved in ministry or missions.


Think of some examples in the Bible when people waited on God’s perfect timing.


Abraham waited many years to see God’s promise fulfilled in the birth of his son, Isaac.


What are some reasons for God’s perfect timing in the example above?


With Abraham… we see that God’s perfect timing was both a test of his faith and an opportunity to grow Abraham’s faith. Abraham saw God fulfill His promise by giving them a son, despite their old age. This prepared Abraham to pass a huge test of faith, when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac.


Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.


God’s perfect timing tests and grows our faith.


Think of some examples in the Bible when people waited on God’s perfect timing.


The Israelites spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt.


What are some reasons for God’s perfect timing in the example above?


In Egypt, the Israelites went from being a big family to a multitude of people, who plundered Egypt on their way out.


God’s perfect timing prepares His people.


Further scriptural support: Exodus 23:29-30


Rahab, the prostitute, speaking… Joshua 2: 9-13 I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.


God’s perfect timing is so that God might be known/feared among all the nations! That is missions!


Think of some examples in the Bible when people waited on God’s perfect timing.


When Lazarus was sick (and eventually died), his sisters, Mary and Martha, waited for Jesus to come.


What are some reasons for God’s perfect timing in the example above?


When Jesus heard that his friend, Lazarus, was sick, he said,


“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4


God’s perfect timing is for God’s glory.


Read 2 Peter 3:3-14. What are some key points related to God’s perfect timing?


God perfect timing allows more people to be saved.


Let’s summarize:


  1. God’s perfect timing tests and grows our faith.

  2. God’s perfect timing prepares His people.

  3. God’s perfect timing is so that God might be known/feared among all the nations! That is missions!

  4. God’s perfect timing is for God’s glory.

  5. God’s perfect timing allows more people to be saved. That is definitely missions!


It’s tempting to question why, if God’s perfect timing is about more people being saved, doesn’t He send revival to Japan now? But when we don’t understand… our job is to trust and obey God.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart


and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,


and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6


We can be encouraged by Jesus’ words:


John 4:34-38 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”


How would you use this scripture to encourage a missionary in Japan? Or any mission worker who might be frustrated?


When reading the scriptures, looking for ways to pray better for missionaries… check out how many of them fall under the category of perseverance. [There are many other scriptures that could be applied to prayer for missionaries—maybe you would enjoy finding them.]


SEND


From Matt 9:37-38: Heavenly Father… The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few so please raise up many workers and send them into your harvest field.


From Acts 26:17-18: Go with them, Jesus. Be with them constantly…. for You are sending them to the lost, to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus.


MESSAGE


From 1 Cor 2 Help the missionaries not to approach the lost with human wisdom or persuasive words, but with words taught by the Spirit and with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.


From 1 Cor 3:10 Help them, by God’s grace, to lay a foundation of Jesus Christ and then to build on it.


From 2 Cor 4:2 God, help them not to distort your word.


From 2 Cor 5:20 They are Christ’s ambassadors; it’s as though you are making your appeal through them... so speak through them to the Lost.


From 2 Cor 10:3-5 Though the missionaries live in the world, the weapons they fight with are not of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. Help them to demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.


From Eph 6:19-20 Lord, whenever the missionaries speak, give them words so that they will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which they are ambassadors.


From 2 Thess 3:1 May the message of the Lord spread rapidly and be honored.


CONDUCT


From 2 Cor 4:2 Help them to renounce secret and shameful ways, and not to use deception.


From 2 Cor 9:12 Help them to conduct themselves in the world with integrity and godly sincerity, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.


PERSECUTION


From 1 Cor 4:12-13 Help the missionaries… when they are cursed, to bless; when they are persecuted, to endure it; when they are slandered, to answer kindly.


From 2 Cor 1:9-10 Help the missionaries not to rely on themselves but on you, God, who raises the dead. Deliver them, and may they set their hope on you, that you will continue to deliver them.


From 2 Thess 3:2 Deliver them from wicked and evil people.


PERSEVERANCE


From 2 Cor 1:21 God, help the missionaries to stand firm in Christ, for you anointed them, set your seal of ownership on them, and put your Spirit in their hearts.


From 2 Cor 4:7 Although they might be hard-pressed on every side, may they not be crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.


From 2 Cor 4:16-18 Help them not to lose heart. Though outwardly, they might be wasting away, may they inwardly be renewed day by day. Encourage them with this reminder… that their light and momentary troubles are achieving for them an eternal glory that outweighs them all. Help them to fix their eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


From 2 Cor 12:10 May they, for Christ’s sake, delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. For when they are weak, they are strong.


From Galations 6:9 Let them not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time they will reap a harvest if they do not give up.


In Jesus' name, Amen.

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