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Apostolic People: Send Me

May 7, 2005

Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,

The Holy Spirit is sent and He sends. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to teach, to empower, to guide into all truth, and to comfort. (John 14.26; 16.7, 8; Acts 2.4; Gal. 4.6) Heís on a mission to "convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." (John 16.8) He has a message to be carried to the nations (1 peter 1.12; Isaiah 48.16; Isaiah 61.1). The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Father, is apostolic.

This is why some are chosen vessels, like Paul and Barnabas and the Twelve. They are separated to the gospel of God, to God Himself, appointed ambassadors, anointed, empowered and sent on a mission with a message. They are sealed. They are witnesses unto Jesus unto the uttermost parts of the earth. (Acts 1.8)

God is looking for apostolic people who hear His call and are willing to go on His mission and carry His message to the nations. Apostolic people connect with others, have a passion for what God is doing, and exude a vibrant joy and reverence in the presence of God. They stay focused, steadfast, faithful, patiently enduring the trials of life as they fight the good fight of faith. They are not easily distracted, love truth at all costs, care about Christ and His Body, give wholehearted praise and worship to the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and draw people with the light and life of Christ within them. Grace covers them with an attractiveness that is the beauty of holiness. With boldness they preach and teach and evangelize with an anointing full of the dynamic life of the Holy Spirit. They keep up with the Spirit today.

Apostolic people understand Godís good news and ardently want to herald it around the world. They laud Godís grace and proclaim Godís mercy and goodness. They also know who they would be without Jesus the Messiah in their lives.

Isaiah was just such a man. A prophet, he was aware that Godís people had revolted against Him. They were weighed down with iniquity, and their sins and rebellion caused them to be devoured and cursed, cut off from the Source of all life and blessing.

One day in the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. He saw seraphim calling out one to another saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory." (Isaiah 6.3)

Sound wonderful? Isaiah said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6.5)

Isaiah was undone. He was okay until He came into the presence of holiness and saw the LORD. Then, he had no hope, except that one of the seraphim flew to him with a burning coal in his hand taken from the altar with tongs. The seraph touched Isaiahís mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven." (Isaiah 6.6, 7)

Grace. Isaiah experienced Godís grace. He was cleansed and forgiven by the grace of God. Behind the chaos of the day was a God of order, ruling over the affairs of the earth, a holy God, just and true. Isaiah received the privilege of seeing beyond the visible world to the majesty of God seated upon a throne. God was in charge and functioning in His role effectively. But to see God is also to see self. Isaiah saw himself and knew that the guilt of his sin and iniquity would be his ruin. He needed to be cleansed and forgiven by a holy God who ruled as Creator/Redeemer.

Grace. As grace moved in, Isaiah was free to serve. Grace touched his heart, his life, his reason for living. With guilt removed, he wanted to serve. And so, at this point, he hears the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" (Isaiah 6.8)

Heís really listening in on a heavenly conversation. And like most of us when we overhear something very interesting, he is compelled to interject his response.

"Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6.8)

Okay. With this, God tells him, "Go, and tell this peopleÖ" (Isaiah 6.9) and suddenly Isaiah becomes a man sent on a mission with a message. His was a message of judgment to a stubborn and rebellious people, nonetheless, Godís covenant people chosen and loved by God. He also carried the message of a coming Messiah, a message of grace.

Today we need to catch the vision of Godís GodnessóHis holiness, His justice, His majesty, His love, His grace, His heart and soul. And we need to be witnesses, men and women on a mission for Christ with a message to tell. Itís "Go and tell." Itís also "Show and tell."

Here on the home front, Iíve been teaching on spiritual gifts and callings. Last week and this week weíve been discussing the gift of apostle. I was struck by the fact that most of the attention on apostles goes to Paul or to Peter or to John and then maybe to Judas and then to one or the other of those considered more prominent among the list. For some reason, I was intrigued by James, son of Alphaeus.

James, son of Alphaeus, appears on all four NT apostolic lists. We have no record of him saying anything, questioning anything, doing anything, going anywhere, etc. in the canon. Heís obscure. Matthew the tax collector also had a father named Alphaeus, so maybe they were brothers or half brothers. And some link James the Less or James the Younger in Mark 15.40 with this James. It would be like calling him "Junior" or "little" or "small in stature" or "less influential." Alphaeus was a common name, so that doesnít help. And if this James was James the Less, then itís possible that he was Jesusí cousin (John 19.25; Mark 2.14; Mark 15.40). Itís all conjecture.

Traditions vary, too. One says he preached in Persia (ancient Iran); that he took the Gospel there and the people refused to hear him preach. Another says he preached in Syria and Egypt, and in one of these places he was crucified on a cross suffering a martyrís death for Christ. Hippolytus identifies that this James was stoned to death in Jerusalem: "And James the son of Alphaeus, when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews, and was buried there beside the temple." Eusebius doesnít mention James in his Church History. He died a martyrís death, but weíre not sure how he died.

Why does this apostle intrigue me? Because heís like millions of believers who never make the history books, live in obscurity, receive no earthly acclaim, and yet go quietly along being faithful to the call of God on their lives.

This is what we can say about James the son of Alphaeus. Jesus attracted him. He wanted to follow Jesus. He was willing to pay the price, to turn his back on his profession and lifestyle, his home, everything, to make the ultimate sacrifice. He learned about Jesus. He took Jesusí yoke and learned of Him.

This James passed a crucial time of separation. In John 6, everyoneís enjoying the church picnic, as it were. They were all filled and loving the good feeling of the free food. They failed to grasp the divine dimension of the day, the supernatural supply. They were more interested in the physical, in satisfying their physical needs. So Jesus startles them to see whoís going for the real food.

Jesus starts talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Heís not advocating cannibalism here in John 6. Heís saying to move beyond the picnic to the Person, to Him. Itís not enough to have physical needs met. The spiritual food is the real food. We need to take in all of Jesus, everything He is, says, and does. All of Jesus satisfies the all of me.

Now many of the learners or disciples heard this and considered it hard, a hard saying. The word is skleros and means stiff, unbending. This saying is not just hard to understand. Itís offensive, unacceptable, uncompromising, absolute, impossible to swallow. Only Jesus gives us life, and we have to take Him in, all of Him to have eternal life. Thatís "hard." And many of Jesusí disciples withdrew and didnít walk with Him anymore. (John 6.66) What about the rest?

Peter speaks for the group. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." (John 6.68) Our James was in that group that remained!

He committed. He didnít bail. He didnít bolt. He counted the cost, learned his lessons, stuck it out, and paid the price to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

This James should encourage us all. Jesus chooses all kinds of people. He can take a worthless sinner like you and me, cleanse us, fill us with His Spirit, sanctify us and send us out on missions with His message of the gospel of grace. What is Apollos and what is Paul? Theyíre just the messengers, and so are we. Weíre not the glorious ones, Jesus is. This James understood that and lived his life accordingly. He honored, exalted, and remained loyal to Christ. His reward? He is one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21.14) who will hear the Masterís "well done, good and faithful servant." He is a pillar of the Eternal City. He also receives crowns.

Susan Smith and I leave on a mission trip to Eastern Europe June 24th. Do you share our passion for souls? You can help by praying about what the Holy Spirit might lead you to do in the areas of prayer and giving to the extension of the gospel. You can designate your gift for "world missions."

Thank you for reaching out and touching lives. Lives are being changed, transformed by Godís love. Together we are making a difference, one heart at a time, in nation after nation.

Next month we go to Bulgaria and Romania.

Just the Messenger,

Mary Craig

P.S. In the area? Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays, at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. After the service, join Rev. Jim Craig to discuss the message or have prayer with Dr. Mary Craig. Visit www.craighouse.org for a map and for more events.

Peace be unto you; as the Father has sent Me, so send I you. (John 20.21)

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Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 4610
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33338-4610

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*Mary Craig Ministries is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. All gifts are tax-deductible as allowed by law.


Susanís Testimony

GOD MAKES A WAY

In January 2005 I realized the Holy Spirit was calling me to be part of the mission team that Mary Craig Ministries was sending to Eastern Europe in June 2005. In February I found a lump in my left breast, which the doctor confirmed as cancer. My doctor and I discussed plans for a lumpectomy, which was to be followed by six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. I prayed, "Lord, You will have to make a way if I am going on this mission trip."

Shortly after this, I had an MRI that showed two more spots on the breast. They were unable to obtain a biopsy of these two spots, so the doctor said it would be best to do a total mastectomy, and that would be followed by six months of chemo depending on what was discovered in the lymph nodes. I continued to pray. In addition to this, I definitely couldnít afford the price of the mission trip. It sure didnít look like I was going on this mission. I didnít know how things could get much worse.

Finally the day of surgery came, and my doctor said the insurance company would only approve one day in the hospital. By this time, I really didnít care. I just wanted to get it over with. After the surgery, they gave me a pain pump so I could stop the pain whenever I need to, but Praise the Lord, I didnít have any pain. My doctor came to see me the next morning and said I looked real good and they were sending me home. Wonder of wonders, I felt like I was ready to go home. She also told me that they didnít find any cancer in the lymph nodes, which was very good news.

Two weeks after surgery I met with the oncologist about further treatment, and it was agreed that chemotherapy was not necessary. I would only have to take a pill that had very little side effects for the next five years. Hallelujah! I had almost three months to heal and get my strength back before the mission trip would take place.

I am thankful to God for all the people who have prayed for me during this ordeal. I bless God for answered prayers and praise Him for His goodness and mercy to me. Now it is May. Iím still praying for financial blessing to cover the cost of the trip, but I know God will make a way.

Susan Smith

Pompano Beach, FL

(MCM is raising the finances necessary for the Eastern European mission trip, $7,600.00. If you would like to sponsor Susan Smithís way, you may designate your donation to Mary Craig Ministries for the Eastern European Mission, Susan Smith. God works in wonderful ways, and this can be an opportunity for you to be part of it all.)


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