Tag Archives: ministry

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!”

God Loves A Cheerful Giver

Tithing is a touchy subject for many churchgoers. And woe to the preacher who feels led to speak on the subject during a Sunday morning service!

A lot of time we use our finances as means of control. “Don’t shop at that department store because they accept gay marriage”. “Don’t buy that soap because the company donates to Planned Parenthood”. “Don’t buy that brand because they advertise during that ungodly TV show.”

Money talks. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing in the above examples. As stewards of God’s provisions, we need to be intentional about where we spend our money. But does the same principle apply to the money we give to our churches?

Paul speaks about the giving record of the church in Corinth in the 9th chapter of his second letter to that church. He talks about their promised financial gift. He tells them about the importance of financial support of the ministry, and likens it to seed sown for a harvest.

Scripture tells us to bring our tithe to the storehouse and leave it there.

I remember, when I was a teenager, I was standing in the foyer of our church on a Saturday. A woman who lived in the neighborhood walked in and handed me an envelope. “This is my tithe,” she said. “But you tell the treasurer I don’t want a dime of this going to the preacher’s salary.”

I did what she asked. The treasurer said for me not to worry about it. He said she does this all the time.

Dear one, that’s not Scriptural. If you don’t like how money is spent at your church – tithe anyway. Go ahead and become an elder, or get on the governing board if you want. Voice your opinion. If you are convinced that God is not in the running of that church, and you’ve tried and failed to make a difference, find another church. But remember, God didn’t tell us to give 10% with strings attached.

It’s our responsibility – and privilege – to plant seeds for the kingdom. That’s what your tithing is intended to do.

And God loves a cheerful giver.

What to Wear?

As I read in Colossians today, Paul reminded me that as a Christian, everything I do I do as a representative of God. If I’m shopping, if I’m shoveling snow, if I attend the office Christmas party, speak to my neighbor, get my hair done, drive my car I represent my Savior.

The Apostle challenges me to take care as I get ready for the day. I may stand at my closet and pick out which shirt to wear, but I also need to clothe myself with, “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, …and above all love.” (3:12-15) I need to make allowances for other’s faults and forgive as God forgave me (as guilty and underserving as I was). Paul also tells me to live in peace and be thankful.

Getting ready in the morning is an act of will. I shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, and carefully choose clothes that match, and that hide those extra pounds I’m carrying. Reading Colossians today I am challenged to be as intentional about what else I put on, knowing I want to make a good impression.

After all, I represent my precious Jesus.

I am going to memorize Paul’s list of “What to Wear” and make it a matter of prayer each morning. I want to choose to be the woman God will be proud to have represent him as I allow him to clothe me, as I allow him to be seen in me.

Dear God, I ask that you will clothe me today with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. May I make allowances for other’s faults and forgive as God forgave me, because we both know you have forgiven me a boatload of sin. I want to live in peace and show you how thankful I am for your many blessings. As I represent you today, may I do it wearing all these things. And may Jesus be seen in me.

Bright Lights and Sweet Aromas

Paul tells us to look at his life, he has nothing to hide. (2 Corinthians 2&3) He calls his life a Christ-like fragrant perfume rising up to God. He compares his life to Moses who, after receiving the Law, shown so brightly he had to put a veil over his face because the light blinded the people. Paul suggests his life is like that.

Paul also says that this sweet aroma offends those who don’t know Christ, the light is hated by those who reject Jesus. But Paul doesn’t let that stop him from living to please God.

I am convicted. Sometimes I wonder if what people see in me offends them at all. Or do I just blend in? Is there a veil over my face to hide the fact I spend time with God each day? Do I splash enough of the world on me to disguise the scent God loves?

I can be such a hypocrite.

I want to impact my world the same way Paul did his. Oh, I don’t feel called to be an itinerate preacher. Paul lived an honest, open life that pointed everyone who met him to the Savior. He ruffled feathers, but pleased God. That’s the life I want to live.

May others see Jesus in me, know it’s real, and want him in their lives, too. May God love my scent, and be the light in me.

But I’m Not A Preacher

Peter and Paul are the two names most associated with the early church. Both were powerful speakers who performed many miracles. But all of the apostles had a part in those formative years.

Take Philip.(Acts 8) He also went from town to town sharing the Gospel. He was as obedient as Peter and Paul, maybe just a bit quieter about it. Obeying God, he spoke with a eunuch and led him to the Savior. I wonder what the eunuch thought when Philip disappeared. I wonder what Philip thought!

God is reminding me today that every believer has a job to do, and he honors obedience. A eunuch might not have seemed all that important to Philip, but that eunuch was important to God.

God is not asking most of us to stand before a large congregation and preach the Gospel so thousands are saved. But he is asking each of us to be obedient to speak to that one person he’s laid on our hearts.

God adds people to his kingdom one soul at a time. He’d like you to share in the responsibility, the honor, and the joy of leading one soul to their Savior.

Will you be obedient today? Will I?

The Devil Is In The Details

The devil is in the details. I know I might be taking some liberties here, but isn’t that kind of what Jesus told Martha? (Luke 10) She was busy preparing dinner – not a bad thing because she had guests in her home. But she was so intent on serving the perfect meal, she neglected her guest: Jesus Himself!

I don’t think this Scripture is teaching us to not plan, not pay attention to details. I know I certainly get frustrated if I’m in a class where the teacher has not spent time preparing, or at a meeting that hasn’t been organized, and wouldn’t it be silly for a football team to run onto the field without¬†someone planning strategies and teaching the plays before they meet their opponent?

I think this passage teaches us about priorities. Jesus HAS to come first. Sure there are demands of the day, obligations we must meet, things to do that require careful planning. But none of that should have precedence over our time with Jesus.

Someone once said, “if you’re too busy to read the Bible, you’re too busy”. Choices, my friend. Choices.

Bill Hybels wrote a book entitled, “Too Busy Not To Pray”. Google¬†Grace L. Naessens, and read her poem: “I Didn’t Have Time.”¬†I think that’s the attitude Scripture would have us have.

So get busy doing work for the kingdom. But not before you spend time with the King.

Nothing is more important.