Ministry That Matters

29 10 2013

I recently realized that none of Jesus’ disciples were “saved” when He called them to follow Him. Not one of them was a “Christian” – a believer.

This thought returns often as I ponder the significance of this truth.

Somehow, many have the idea that “ministry” in the church (i.e. to teach, preach, lead worship, or usher, etc.) is the “do-all” “end-all” of our existence. I’m having to re-think this belief. Corporate gatherings are for the purpose of worshiping our Lord and equipping the body.

Equipped for what? By today’s standards, the purpose would seem to be so we could have a happier week between services.

However, Jesus said,

“Love one another

as I loved you.”

(John 13:34)

The word have makes me ask, “when”? Is He referring to these men at the end of their lives, when they finally “arrived” at spiritual maturity?

Or does He mean in the same way as He loved them…when they were first invited to join Him? You know, when they were a bunch of fishermen, a tax collector, a thief, etc.

Further, Scripture tells us that not many wise, not many mighty, and not many noble are called. Instead, He calls the foolish, the weak, and the base (insignificant) 1 Corinthians 1:26,27.

Why then, I have to ask, do I devote my time and attention to those who are wise, mighty, and noble in their own eyes – and not to the weak, broken, cast off, and dismissed as worthless by society?

My preference is the company of people who are “cleaned up,” and would rather “preach to the choir” than get my hands dirty with the “scum of the earth.”

In this, I have never been less Christ-like.

This confession grieves me.

When I meet a person who’s “train wreck” of a life seems hopeless, I am often quick to dismiss them as useless. Mentally, I’ve run through what it would take to wade into their mess and make a disciple of them. It would require prayer, time, courage, and perseverance. This will take more effort than it’s worth, I think, and move on to those with a “tidier” life…usually this means other Christians.

When faced with people who were blind, though, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28)

I believe this is His question to us today.

Do we believe that He is able to:

heal the brokenhearted

preach deliverance to the captives

give sight to the blind, and

set at liberty those who are oppressed?

(Luke 4:18-19)

Or has His ministry been reduced to making His body of believers more comfortable by improving their lifestyles?

How we spend our days reveals what we truly believe concerning this matter.

Jesus’ call is to go make disciples. This means that they aren’t disciples yet! 

…and are probably not sitting in the pew next to us.

We will have to go to them. They will be found in the highways and the hedges (Luke 14:23).

This sounds like the hitchhikers and homeless to me.

They may be a mess.

So were we.

This may take courage, time, and perseverance.

I’m glad Jesus stuck it out with me!

They might seem hopeless.

Nothing is impossible with God.

When we reach out to those who believe themselves to be healthy, we are brushed off as having useless information. Why do they need God? Life is good.

However, Jesus said to the “healthy” religious Pharisees,

“Those who are whole have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’

For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

(Matthew 9:12-13)

As His body, let us

Go therefore and do likewise!

(Luke 10:37)

This is a tall order…our Great Commission, given to us by the Lord. Tomorrow we’ll discuss how we can be equipped to fulfill this call.

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No Blood, Guts, or Gore Required

9 08 2013

A study of the tabernacle is very fascinating. Every detail speaks volumes concerning spiritual truths.

We spent several months going over the various elements in our home group. My husband purchased a model of the tabernacle so we would have it as a visual aid while we studied. It was a fun study, and we spent the first two nights painting and erecting our set. It also came with figurines of priests, cows, and sheep.

At the same time, he and I were reading Experiencing the Cross by Henry Blackaby. One of the topics in this book is the cost of sin. This, we realized, was clearly demonstrated day after day in the tabernacle – then later the temple as countless animals were slain.

Why all the blood, guts, and gore?

Sin is a gory, bloody mess to God. Through animal sacrifices, God gave us a clear visual of the seriousness of sin…it brings death. At the same time, He used the daily sacrifices to help us understand that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

Once our model was completed, we set the furniture in place, as well as the priests and animals. We set some of the sheep and bulls on the little tables, and set the bent-over priests next to them as if they were inspecting them.

As Wendel read out of Blackaby’s book, I saw what was being displayed in a very different way. Along with the mental image came the verse: Present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable act of worship.

Suddenly I understood what He’d been teaching me:

I am the lamb on that table.

I need to be examined for spots and blemishes…

…not so I can be rejected as unworthy,

nor so I can be killed to pay for my sins.

Instead,

I am there as a living sacrifice.

The Holy Spirit is the One examining me,

bringing to light anything for which I need to repent.

When the inspection is done, I am released!

Jesus already paid the price for my sin; but I am to be holy and acceptable. When I submit to this inspection and correction, it is an act of worship unto the Lord.

Furthermore, I saw that while man (the priest) looks at the outward appearance, God (through His Spirit) looks at the heart.

God used the combination of the model of the tabernacle and the Scripture to give us a better understanding of His truth.

I’m so thankful that, unlike the lambs, goats, and cows, I will arise from

the inspection table

alive

– and hopefully –

“altared”

(okay, changed! :))

With a heart that has been cleansed, I am less conformed to the world – and more transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I can prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Father, thank You for loving us and sending Jesus to die in our place. I am so grateful that You are faithful to complete the work You’ve begun in us. Help us to present softened hearts that can be quickly cleansed. Renew our minds, lead us into a better understanding of Your Word. May all we do, say, and even think bring glory and honor to Your great name this day.

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen

\o/