From the beginning, God has called leaders to serve His people. For God, Abraham left his homeland. Moses declined Egypt and its riches. Joshua destroyed Jericho. Elijah confronted King Ahab. Daniel faced the lions; and the James and John forsook their nets. Matthew left his customs booth. And Paul left a life of power and prestige. Despite their trials, these all found the venture satisfying. Paul's account of shipwreck, floggings, danger, and hardship glows with suffused excitement. He was having the time of his life! What if he'd said no to Christ? Telling the Philippians about the things he had given up, Paul declared, "I consider them rubbish." And why? "That I may gain Christ and be found in him" Philippians 3:8-9. We enjoy the same perspective, for through His Cross; Jesus opened not only the door of salvation for all who would accept, but the privilege of service as well. Jew, Greek, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free...all may serve the Lord Christ. Some were apostles. Some, prophets. Some will be evangelists, some pastors and teachers. All are "for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, to the building up of the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" Ephesians 4:12-13. For the Minister of the Gospel, each day offers a new challenge. The phone rings; we are summoned to the bedside of a dying man. Later in the day, we help arrange a marriage. That evening, we counsel a soul in trouble. No other vocation offers such a wide span of involvement with mankind. Then when we stand to preach, think of it...in our weak and human hands we hold the truth of God, the supreme answer to the souls of man. The ministry of Christ is not a job, not a profession. It is a calling, and the noblest...the most demanding and at times exasperating, but it is surely the most satisfying and rewarding experience human life affords. With Paul, we can truly say, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service" 1Timothy 1:12. Like the Christian life, the ministry of Christ is a relationship between the disciple and his lord. We serve Him; He develops and strengthens us. We must prepare ourselves first, then our sermons. The very fact that we are ministers will work against our spiritual life unless we are careful. We study the Bible, but for a text; we pray, but in front of a group or beside a hospital bed. While attending to these public ministries, our personal devotions may be neglected. Power in preaching comes in direct proportion to time spent in prayer and in the Word. Nothing...not speaking ability nor a forceful personality nor a persuasive manner...can take the place of the Spirit of God, filing and shaping and using the life committed to Him. Are we adequate to the task? Never. We have this treasure in jars of clay, but God accepts and uses our service nonetheless. Paul finally learned to accept his weakness, so "that the power of Christ may dwell in me" 2Corinthians 12:9. If the truth were known, few of us pray enough. We tend to rely too much upon our cleverness in programming and promotion, but not enough upon the power of God through prayer. Sadly, our churches show it. A definite time and place, preferably early in the morning, where one can shut out the world and feed upon the Word, unburden his heart, and commune with the Father will set the tone for the day and for a lifetime. The minister who keeps his appointment with God need have no anxiety about his work. In his daily walk, he will experience the unfolding hand of God bringing new power and effectiveness. He will see his life lifted to a new level he never dreamed possible, a level he could never have attained by himself. Pressed by the crowds, with such a short time to complete His task, Jesus still found time to pray. So must we.
|Title||:||The Little Black Book: An Apostolic Guide for New Ministers of the Gospel|