Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘minister

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Thank-you-Jesus-for-saving-my-life-1I was reading this passage and thinking of how we are all indebted to Jesus.  We have done terrible things in our lives but He showed us such love and grace that we could only respond in humility and gratitude.  There are times when my past comes back to haunt me but then I remember Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

Paul writes to Timothy about his past.  He shares how he was once an enemy of the church.  He blasphemed the Lord and persecuted His people but it was done in ignorance.  How many of us have not done things that we later regret out of ignorance?

Paul spoke of how Jesus poured out His grace on him.  “He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”  How many of us are called into ministry after the Lord has shown us mercy?  I have heard of men who once on the wrong side of the law become pastors.  At a Women’s Ministry program, a speaker shared her testimony of how life was for her before she found Jesus.  She used to be a drug addict.  

It doesn’t matter where or how we encounter Jesus.  What matters is that once we surrender to Him, He can do remarkable things in our lives.  When people see how the Lord has transformed a person you never would imagine would become a Christian, they can’t help but be amazed and curious.  When Paul began preaching after his conversion, many people were amazed.  They couldn’t believe that it was the same person who used to a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.  In his eyes, he was a chief sinner among the sinners whom Jesus came to save.  I can almost hear the regret in his words but he sees something positive in this.  As the worst sinner of them all, he can be used to demonstrate how patient Jesus is towards the worst of sinners.  He, Paul will serve as an example to all who in the future should trust Jesus for eternal life.

We, like Paul, are indebted to Jesus for His love, kindness, mercy, grace and patience.  He loved us even when we were rejecting Him.  All that time when Paul was persecuting the church, Jesus loved him.  He knew Paul’s heart.  He knew that Paul was acting out of ignorance and He knew that He could redirect that zeal.  This explains why Paul was so passionate in his work as a minister.  He testified, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).  It is as if he were working hard to show Jesus that His mercy toward him had not be in vain.

Let us show the Lord how much we appreciate His grace toward us.  Let us do this by the way we live, how we treat others and in whatever work He has called us to do.

Thank You, Jesus for saving us and using us to bring other lost souls to You.

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Acts 11:1-18

It’s interesting the reaction Peter got from his fellow believers when they learned that the Gentiles had received the Word of God. The Jewish believers contended with him, accusing him of associating with the uncircumcised.

I couldn’t help thinking of Jesus who thought nothing of going to the home of a centurion whose beloved servant was gravely ill to heal him. He went with the men the centurion sent to escort Him to his house. Jesus was not far away when the centurion sent other men to deter Him, saying that he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his home (Luke 7:2-10). No doubt the religious leaders would have had a problem with Him entering the home of a Gentile.

Peter had harbored the same prejudices as these believers but the Lord gave him a change of heart. He said to Cornelius, the Gentile whom Jesus had sent him to minister to, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28).

Jesus didn’t discriminate. He ate with Pharisees and He ate with publicans. He didn’t play favorites. He gave all people His time and care and attention. He came to minister to everyone and manifest the love of God who sent Him to save the lost.

Are we guilty of reacting like these brethren? Do we harbor prejudices? Are there certain people we won’t associate with? What if God were to call us to minister to these people as He called Peter to minister to the Gentiles? Let us pray to have the heart and mind of Jesus. That is the only way that we would be able to rejoice with the angels when one lost person is saved.

Starting from the beginning, Peter explained what happened.  He ended his narrative with this rhetorical question:  “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”  The brethren couldn’t object to that.  In fact, they had nothing to say.  They became silent.  Then, they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

We are to glorify God for His marvelous grace and remember that His salvation is for everyone.

Acts 9:32-35

peter heals aeneasImagine being bedridden and paralyzed for eight years!  It must have seemed like a lifetime for Aeneas.  However, his life was about to change.  Peter went through parts of the country and stopped off at Lydda where Aeneas was.  I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Peter actually went looking for Aeneas or it could be that someone told him about him.  The point is, he found Aeneas and he said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.”

Aeneas responded in faith.  He immediately got up.  I can imagine him dancing and leaping with joy like the lame man whom Peter and John healed at the gate (Acts 3:1-10).

Peter made it clear to Aeneas that it was Jesus who healed him, not Peter.  When we reach out and help someone or minister to them, it is imperative that they know that what they have received is from God, not us.  We are but vessels through whom He works wonders.  So, Peter gave the credit where it was due.  The word, the touch and the name of Jesus bring healing.

When the people in Lydda and Sharon saw that Aeneas was no longer paralyzed, they turned to the Lord.  Our ministry should lead people to the Lord.

When God does something wonderful in your life, do you give Him the credit?  Do you tell others about it?  Has the Lord ever used you to lead others to Him?  Will you tell someone today that faith in the name of Jesus will bring healing, peace, joy and hope?  All of these things Aeneas received that day when, in faith he was able to walk again.

 

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering- Hebrews 10:23

Faith barriers hamper God’s plans for our lives.  These barriers can be doubt, insecurity, ignorance and fear.  Moses was insecure and doubted his ability to do what God called him to do.  Job was ignorant of the magnitude of God’s power.  Jonah was afraid of failing God.  Peter was afraid when he started to sink as he made his way across the water to Jesus and fear made him deny knowing Jesus and fear made the other disciples desert Him.  Intolerance made Paul persecute the Christians.  Let’s examine each of these spiritual barriers and how the Lord dealt with each of them.

When Moses said to God, “O My Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”  The Lord’s anger kindled against him and He told Moses that his brother Aaron who could speak well would do the talking.  “So he shall be your spokesman to the people.  And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God.  And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.” (Exodus 4:13-17)  So, God dealt with Moses’ doubt and insecurity by sending Aaron with him to help him and equipping him with the rod, which would be used to perform miracles.  After God assured Moses that he would not have to face Pharaoh alone, he obeyed Him.

When Job was tested, he was confused.  He couldn’t understand why these terrible things were happening to him when he had been a righteous man all his life.  All that he had was taken away from him and he was covered in sores.  His life was in shambles and he wanted to ask God why.  “I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; Show me why You contend with me.” (Job 10:2)

Later in the scripture, God answered Job.  “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”  God reminded Job that He is the creator of all things and that everything under Heaven is His.  (Job 40:1-34)  Job sees God in His true image—God almighty, creator of everything in Heaven and earth.  He realised that God can do everything and that nothing is denied Him.  Job knew God by what he heard and believed but for the first time in his life he’s really seeing God.  His eyes are opened to the majesty of God and he is sorry for the things he had said before.  He realised that he had no right to question God or his love for him.  Instead, he should focus on God and remember that He is in control. 

In the beginning Job blessed God and held fast to his integrity.  He accepted the bad things that were happening in his life but his faith soon turned to doubt as he focused on the situation rather than on God and he began to question God.  When we concentrate on our troubles instead of concentrating on God, that is when we start to doubt Him and question His love for us.  God was there all the time but Job did not feel His presence because he was so caught up in self-pity and despair.  He was more focused on the flesh that he neglected the spirit—the Spirit of God who was with him.  God dealt with Job by reminding him of whom He is and that no one contends with Him.  We should worship Him and praise Him no matter what.  Once Job learned this, he was blessed with more than he lost.

Jonah was afraid of failing God but God used him to relay His message to the people of Nineveh when He could have done it Himself.  God desires to use people to do His wondrous works through, not only to show the people he is trying to get through to but, also the people he is using what He is capable of.  He wanted to show Jonah how merciful He is by sparing the lives of the wicked people of Nineveh when they repented of their sins.  He wanted to teach Jonah about tolerance because in those days, the Jews and the Gentiles did not get along.  God wanted to demonstrate His love and acceptance of all people.

The disciples forsook Jesus and fled because it was written, “I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.” (Zechariah 13:7)  Peter denied Jesus three times out of fear.  But, before this happened, the Lord said to Peter, “Simon, Simon!  Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)  Jesus knew that Peter’s faith would be tested and He prayed for him. 

Peter was called to minister to the Gentiles.  “Behold, three men are seeking you.  Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”  He restored Peter’s faith as He promised and sent him to give the Gentiles the same gift as He gave to the Jews.  Jesus enabled Peter to strengthen the brethren who glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”  (Acts 11:1-18)

As a result, the disciples spoke to the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.  When the church in Jerusalem heard about the news, they sent Barnabas as far as Antioch.  He encouraged them and a great many people were added to the Lord.  Barnabas went back to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch with him.  There they taught a great many people and it was there in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. (Acts 11:19-30)

God used Paul a non-Christian to convert other non-Christians.  Paul was there when Stephen was stoned.  He consented to his death.  Paul wreaked havoc on the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.  Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, Paul went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus so that if he found any who were of the Way, men or women, he might take them to Jerusalem.  It was on this trip that his life changed forever.

Jesus spoke to him and Paul, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”  Jesus replied, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Paul did as he was told.  He received the Holy Spirit and immediately began to preach in the synagogues confounding those who remembered how he used to destroy all the people who preached in Jesus’ name.” (Acts 7:58, 8:1, 3, 9:1-21)

When we obey God or keep our eyes above, our faith is strengthened.  Our responsibility as Christians is to trust in God and allow Him to work wondrous things in our lives, use us to fulfil His plans.  God uses all sorts of people to work through as outlined in the examples above.  No one is immune to God’s power or love.  He desires that we obey Him and answer His call.  He equips us with everything we need to do His work and He is with us every step of the way.  Just as He promised Moses, Peter and Paul that He would be with them, He is with us today.  And like Job, we should praise Him in good times and in bad and unlike Jonah, we should not allow prejudice to hinder us.

Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” – Revelation 2:4

Our good works should reflect our ongoing relationship Christ and detract from it.  He should be our focus and once our focus remains on Him, we then share our love for Him with others.  When Jesus ministered to the people, His focus was always on God who sent Him.  He told His disciples, “for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36)  Jesus spent most of His time teaching the gospel but He found the time to meditate.  In Luke 6:12, it says, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”  It is good to minister to the needy and help people but we must always have time for God.  God should always come first.  We must never lose sight of Him.

There is mention of a prophetess named Anna, who served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  She spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption. (Luke 2:36, 37-38)  In his letter to the Romans, Paul urges them to, “Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”  Paul is advising the church to serve God in addition to ministering to the people.  We shouldn’t do one and not the other.  We shouldn’t be so caught up in helping people that we forget to acknowledge God whom we are working for.

Our relationship with Jesus should take precedence over everything and everyone else.  We should not allow anything to draw us away from him or take our up so much of our time that we neglect Him.  Time spent with Jesus is precious and should be cherished.  

In Matthew 26:6-12, it is written that when Jesus and His disciples were in Bethany, a woman poured costly fragrant oil on His head.  His disciples were angry and said that she was wasting oil which could have been sold for a lot of money that could have been given to the poor.  Jesus’ response was, “Why do you trouble the woman?  For she had done a good work for Me.  For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.  For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.”  This woman whom the apostle John revealed was Mary, Lazarus’ sister, realised how precious little time she had with Jesus and she made the most of it. 

We are more fortunate.  Jesus is with us all the time.  He’s just a prayer away.  We should spend time with Him everyday, praising Him, giving thanks to Him and honouring Him.  We should focus on Him so that we are able to:    

Form a stronger bond with Him

Open our hearts to Him

Commit ourselves to Him

Understand Him better

Strengthen our faith

Jesus desires that we love one another as He loved us but, at the same time, we cannot allow our relationship with Him to suffer.  When we have a close relationship with God, people will know that He is working through us to help others.  They will know that we are His ambassadors.  That we were sent by Him minister to others just as He Himself was sent by the Father to do His works.


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