Tag Archives: ministry

May 16; How Far Will It Go?

I Chronicles 6:31-53, 25:1-26:32

I love that the names of the men assigned tasks in the ministry of the temple (not even built yet) are listed here. Most of these men are unknown, regular guys – except for this one thing. Most of these men aren’t listed with kings, or warriors, or prophets. Yet their names are being read today, thousands of years after they’ve gone.

Why?

They served God.

I also love the fact that so many fathers and sons worked side by side in their ministries. I would think nothing could be sweeter for Christian parents than to have their children serving God alongside them. What a blessing that must be!

There is something else that I noticed here in these lists: Accountability.

All these men were assigned duties, and with that we read about the supervision of their fathers, or the commanders, or those who were “in charge.” All the men were given jobs, but none of them did their “own thing.” Even those with authority still answered to the king.

This is a great picture of the inner workings of the Church, isn’t it? Ordinary people working shoulder-to-shoulder in various ministries, some with the responsibility to oversee, to ensure the works gets done to the glory of God, and ultimately, all are accountable to the King of Kings.

You and I might be just regular people, working behind the scenes in ministry of some kind. We might never be lauded or applauded in this lifetime. The men whose names we read today probably weren’t, either. But here we are so many years later, talking about them. I guess we’ll never know how far-reaching our obedience in ministry will go, either.

May 15; Building The Church

I Chronicles 23-24, 6:16-30

I’ve shared that my church is in the middle of a building project. We are excited about moving forward, to laying a foundation now that the land is cleared, to see walls go up, and to eventually move to the north end of the island. The drawings of our future home are beautiful. Not ornate. But you’ll definitely be able to identify it as a church, unlike the remodeled garage we worship in today. It’s so exciting.

David was excited about his building project, too. We saw yesterday how he did the prep-work, buying materials and hiring skilled workers. David even went one step further, an unimaginable step, when he made Solomon king in his place. A king just didn’t do that. Death was the only thing that removed a king from a throne, or maybe an enemy victory. Never a willing abdication in favor of a son.

I imagine David was hoping he’d live long enough to at least see the temple built, even if God had told him Solomon was going to be the builder.

But, and here’s what spoke to me today, David wasn’t only concerned about the physical building of the temple. Oh, he wanted it done right, with the best materials. He wanted it to be the most beautiful building in the world. But David was not satisfied with a ¬†beautiful structure. What use would it be if there wasn’t ministry happening there?

So, even before the foundation of the building was laid, he assigned people to be gatekeepers, musicians, officials, judges, bakers, dish washers, as well as priests. David doesn’t seem to be satisfied with the outward appearance, and not with what was to happen inside.

It’s nice to worship in a beautiful building with state-of-the-art technology, comfortable chairs and air-conditioning. But if there isn’t ministry happening in there, what good is it? The size or appearance of our churches are meaningless if God isn’t finding willing workers inside.

There are vital, beautiful churches that meet huddled together in someone’s living room, or in buildings with holes in the roof, and dirt floors. There are amazing churches meeting in store fronts, in tents, or barns where people are gathering together to worship, and grow, and then getting out there and making disciples.

Sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on the physical, how our churches look, from the size of a steeple to the look of a stage, from how the landscaping looks to how the worship service looks, we neglect the ministry opportunities and responsibilities.

Let’s take care of our buildings, make sure the bills are paid and the lawn is mowed and the toilets flush. But let’s also remember why we have those buildings in the first place. Are we using them during the week for ministry, or only on Sunday for a couple hours? Are we who meet on Sundays sharing the Gospel when we leave those four walls, or are we only there for an experience?

You know the Church is not a building. It’s important to take care of our meeting places, but the Church is you. It’s me. Building God’s Church doesn’t involve hammers and nails, but men and women who are out there serving, ministering, people who are involved in the lives of other people, and leading them to their Savior.

I pray that we will have the same singular focus on growing the Church as David had in seeing that temple built. Let’s build the Church one redeemed soul at a time.

 

Isaiah 65-66; A Beautiful Church

Isn’t it amazing to be part of the Church Isaiah describes in these chapters? The whole world is blessed because of us, and we who are faithful produce the fruit of eternal souls saved when God’s children allow Him to work through us to reveal Himself to those who need Him.

From the moment the Holy Spirit came upon His people with a mighty wind and tongues of fire, God Himself became available to anyone anywhere; Jews, Gentiles, men, women, young, old, rich, poor. He doesn’t live in a house made my human hands. He lives in all of us, His workmanship through the blood of His precious Son Jesus Christ.

Ministry is no longer confined to Levites, or priests. All believers have a ministry, we are all to go into all the world and make disciples.

Belief in Jesus makes everything new. The old passes away, the new comes, and we will live forever with our Creator God, our Savior.

These last chapters in the book of Isaiah remind me what a privilege it is to be a part of God’s family, His Church on this earth. And it convicts me to do my part to care for His Church, to help it grow, to show the world how beautiful it really is.

I Kings 17; Empty

I’ve heard the story of Elijah and the widow for as long as I can remember. In my mind’s eye, I can picture the figures on the flannel board in our Sunday School room. (When was the last time you even saw a flannel board? ūüôā ) The lesson we learned from this Scripture was: GOD SUPPLIES ALL OUR NEEDS.

I read what J. Vernon McGee had to say about this passage today, and he reminded me Elijah had just returned from the desert where God used ravens to feed him, a stream to meet his need for water. McGee pointed me to others who had similar experiences: Moses, Abraham, John the Baptist, Paul. Even Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. GOD STRENGTHENS US IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.

Dr. McGee then talked about the miracle of the healing of the widow’s son. The boy had died. But when Elijah went to him, made contact with him three times, the boy lived again. GOD IS THE DIVINE HEALER.

Do you remember Jesus’ first miracle? The wedding in Cana of Galilee, right? He turned water into wine. GOD GIVES HIS VERY BEST.

Then J. Vernon challenged every lesson I thought I’d learned from these stories. While it is true that God provides what we need, that He is our strength, our healer, and that He does all things well, we miss something important if that’s all we see in these passages.

What does the never-ending flour pot, the desert, the dead boy, and the wine have in common?

NOTHING.

Well, not nothing. But an emptiness, a void, nothingness. The lessons are not just that God prepared people for ministry in the desert. It’s the desert.

It’s not only that God didn’t let the flour run out. It’s the empty pot.

It’s not raising a boy from the dead. It’s the dead boy.

And it was never about the wedding, or even just the wine. It was the empty jars.

All which were filled by God Himself. To make his point, Dr. McGee shared a story about Hudson Taylor. It’s lengthy, but I want to quote it from page 107 in Thru the Bible Commentary Series on 1st and 2nd Kings by J. Vernon McGee. (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1991):

It is said of Hudson Taylor that when he prepared young missionaries for service in his mission, he insisted, “Remember that when you come out here you are nothing. It is only what God can and will do through you that will be worth anything.” One young missionary replied, “It is hard for me to believe that I am just nothing.” And Hudson Taylor said to him, “Take it by faith because it is true. You are nothing.” You and I are just dried up brooks unless the Word of God is flowing through us.

You, my friend are nothing. I am nothing. Neither of us has anything of value to offer God who owns everything, and who created everything anyway. And until we empty ourselves and allow God to fill us with Himself, we are worth nothing to Him, we cannot be used by Him.

Sorry if that offends your sensitive sense of self.

Paul said he died daily, that he was crucified with Christ, that he was dead to self. If you think you can effectively serve God any other way, you are wrong.

Empty yourself. Let Him fill you to overflowing.

Then stand back and be amazed at what God can and will do through you, for His sake, and for His glory!

Dear Filler of our souls, I pray that all of us reading this chapter in I Kings today will be challenged to BE that desert, that empty pot, that dead boy. Help us to empty ourselves of our hopes and dreams, our talents and our gifts, our egos and our rights. Then, Lord, fill us with YOU. May we be instruments in Your hands, clay in the hands of the Potter, and may You create in each of us pure hearts. Use us today as we yield to Your will. And may Jesus be glorified.

September 11 – A Lesson From Former Priests

Ezekiel 44-45

The Levites were sinful men. Some of them had done things that resulted in God’s taking away their positions as priests. In this life, they had to bear their shame for the sins they committed. Yet God gave them other responsibilities in the care of the temple and the temple services.

All of us bear the marks of the sins we have committed. Some of us publicly bear the shame and embarrassment of past choices. Broken marriages, addictions, abortions, and the like never go away. We remember. Others remember.

And sometimes those sins can exclude us from certain parts of ministry. But I am thankful that God doesn’t just write us off.

God has things for us to do in service to Him. He forgives every sin we bring to Him and dresses us with Jesus’¬†righteousness before the Father. So if that particular sin we’ve committed excludes¬†us from serving as a deacon, we can serve as a grounds keeper. We can visit the sick, or care for widows. If our past prevents us from being a pastor, we might¬†help with the food outreach or keep track of the church finances.

I know there will be some who disagree with me on this. Doesn’t God forgive and wash us clean? Absolutely! We are whiter than snow before our Holy God when He sees us through the blood of His Son. ¬†I think of Matthew, a dishonest tax collector, or Paul, a killer of Christians, both of whom served God in incredible ways after they met Jesus. I am forever thankful for that fact.

A¬†murderer still faces the consequence for that murder, even if he or she comes to the Savior while behind bars. They are free from the law of sin and death. But they are not free to walk out of that prison. A child who was aborted does’t automatically come to life when the parent confesses that sin. People hurt by the actions of an addict¬†don’t automatically heal just because the addict¬†asked God to forgive him or her. Sometimes we just have to live with consequences for sin.

But that’s not an excuse to quit serving. Ezekiel tells us the former priests took on other responsibilities to keep the ministry of the temple running. They could no longer serve as priests because of the sins they had committed, so they got busy serving in other ways.

I guess I’m just suggesting¬†that, if your church fellowship feels led to take away a ministry you’ve participated in, don’t get mad and walk away. Find some other way to serve. Serving God is not about you, anyway.

 

April 29 – Excuses! Excuses!

I Chronicles 7-10

I wonder what it would have been like to be Sheerah. In a male-dominant society, she is credited with building lower and upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah. She is given one verse in I Chronicles (7:24), but her life must have been extraordinary.

I wonder what it was about her that she was able to have men listen to her, to follower her direction, to respect her. Because she certainly didn’t build those cities by herself.

I wonder what would have happened if Sheerah had sat back and not taken command of the situation. She could hardly be faulted if she had thought, “What can I do? I’m only a woman.” Or if the first time a man tried to overrule her if she had given up.

The thing is, God uses both men and women to accomplish great things. It just takes a willingness to step out in faith.

If God is calling you into some kind of ministry, stop making excuses. God used uneducated men who were willing to follow Jesus to lead the first century Church. If God can use them, He can use you, too.

God uses men and women, healthy and dying, introverts and extroverts, children and elderly people to do great things in Jesus’ name. When a heart is yielded to God, He can accomplish the extraordinary.

Feb 10 – Let Me Do That

Exodus 33-35

Did you think of your church fellowship when you read these chapters in Exodus today? God moved people to action. And they obeyed.¬†Some gave of their material possessions. Some gave of their time as they used their talents for sewing, building, carving, designing…

The Tabernacle would be made by hundreds of people, working together, following God’s leading. This is what being a church is all about.

There is a dear woman in my church who loves to sew. God laid on her heart to start a sewing ministry, not knowing how many women would even be interested. But she was faithful. Once a month from five to twenty five women gather in the fellowship hall. Some bring sewing machines, some have scissors, some bring irons. They have made Salvation Dolls and sent them to a missionary who uses them to introduce children in Africa to their Savior. They made draw string bags to put in the boxes for Operation Christmas Child. They’ve made walker bags for a nursing home in our neighborhood. They’ve made neck pillows, bookmarks, snuggle pillows for a children’s hospital, blankets, and they’ve only been meeting for about a year.

My sister feels led to minister to elderly women in her church who live alone. (Happy Birthday, Peggy. I love you!) Through her church’s visitation ministry, she visits about five women every month, takes them to the grocery if they need, takes them to lunch or the doctor, prays with them, or just sits with them. She sends them cards, and calls them just to say hi.

There is a church where a few retired men got together and formed a committee that will pick up used appliances, clean and repair them, then give them to needy people in the community. They fix furniture for the same reason.

I’ve shared that my church provides a free meal every month for the community. There are several people in this tiny fellowship who organize, cook, serve, and clean up month after month for about 100 people who enjoy a hot meal with all the fixins.

Some people are called by God to teach Sunday School, work in the nursery, mow the church lawn, cook, clean, sing, work with Youth groups, give financially.

And when these people follow God’s lead, great things can happen for our churches in Jesus’ name.

Do you feel God’s call to some ministry in your church? Don’t depend on¬†someone else to obey your call. Step right up and say, “Let me do that!”