Faithful In Little

Numbers 3:17
“These were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.”

After erecting the Tabernacle in he center of the camp, the Levites were divided into three groups each with important roles as it related to the ministry. Gershon was posted in the south, Kohath in the west, Merari in the north, and Moses and the priests were in the east at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Each family had different, yet equally as important roles. Gershon’s role was to carry the exterior coverings of the tabernacle. Kohath’s was to carry the utensils and Merari was responsible for all the heavy stuff.
If you couldn’t be a priest, for sure, the coolest role would be to carry the utensils.  However, as time goes on we find that Kohathites complain about their role in the ministry. They were unhappy with the role they were called upon to play and began to covet the ministry of the priests.

Sadly, this happens often in the church. A person called by God to a particular area of ministry becomes envious of someone else’s position. This attitude leads to neglect and division. There could be no Tabernacle ministry without the carrying of the blocks, or the care of the articles of worship. If you are discouraged in your service, allow me to encourage you not to look for a new ministry, but to look at how you might be more faithful in  your role. If you are a greeter, exercise the gift of hospitality and love each person that comes in the door of the church. Did you know that the word “hospitality” means “to love strangers?“ Make them feel welcomed and comfortable that when the Bible is taught they might receive what God has for them. If you serve as a children’s church leader, be a diligent student of the Word, and come prepared to teach the kids in a way that will turn them on to the Lord and His Word. There is no better training ground for the pulpit than the children’s classes.

Jesus taught us a very important principle of ministry. He said, those who were faithful in little will be faithful in much. This is one of the most important principles to learn if you are seeking to be used by God. Our church grew very slowly. When I arrived there were approximately 15 people, almost five years later there were 30 of us. It wasn’t because we were doing the wrong things, but because God had to do a work in me before He could work through me. I had to learn to love, care for and minister to 15 sheep before the Lord would give me the care of more. That is the same for all of us. We need to learn to be faithful in the little things and remember that promotion comes from the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Faithful In All Things 

Exodus 24:5
“Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.”

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” I am quite certain most of us have heard this little slogan. The lesson in it is, there is no way to get a job done properly, unless you alone are the one to do it. I would guess each of us could supply loads of empirical data that would support such a statement. We have all given a task to another, only to find they proved less than qualified to accomplish it.

While it is necessary for a person to prove themselves faithful before they are given opportunity for ministry, it is also true, God’s method of  expanding ministry is to give it away. Moses was not a one-man-band who did not allow others opportunity to serve. Instead, he spread ministry by putting it into the hands of others.

Although the names, physical descriptions, and occupations of these men are not disclosed, we do know, they were less than qualified for the task. The one adjective used to describe them was that they were young. Young, in many cases, could be used synonymously with the word inexperienced. The basic idea is, Moses chose guys who might seem unqualified for the job, in order to raise up another generation given to the service of the Lord. Moses was not alone in this approach, Jesus and Paul were both known for giving ministry away.

I think there are two simple applications to draw from this text. First, we should seek to become a person that others would want to include in ministry. If we know those serving the Lord are always looking for faithful, although perhaps inexperienced people, we should seek to be faithful. Second, if we are involved in ministry, we cannot try to hold on to it. Instead of viewing it as “our ministry”, we should see it as “His ministry”, and be looking for others to team with, and ultimately, to pass things on to.

Pastor Jim

Source Of Strength 

Zechariah 4:6
“So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Says the Lord of hosts.'”

Zerubbabel, the governor of Judea, was responsible for a task far too great for himself. He had led a small group of untrained refugees from Persia back to Jerusalem. There, in the midst of continual opposition, and with limited resources, they began the project of restoring the Temple of God. It did not take long for the people to become discouraged and the work to cease. It was then, that a message came to Zechariah from the Lord. The message was in the form of a vision, and showed the Temple menorah connected to an olive tree by seven golden pipes. These pipes provided oil to the lamp, without the need of human intervention. Puzzled by the meaning of the vision, Zechariah was told this was a message for the governor. Just as the lamp would be fueled supernaturally, so would Zerubbabel be strengthen by the hand of God. He was told that it was ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.

This is one of the simplest yet most profound truths for anyone engaged in ministry. When we step out to serve, we want to offer our absolute best to God, and we often wear the weight of the ministry on our shoulders. We become discouraged and even overwhelmed when we do not see things being accomplished at a rate we are happy with, or when they do not meet our standard. We can even begin to think the growth of the church depends on our achievements. It is during those times it is particularly important for us to remember that, “it is not by might, nor by power but by the Spirit of God” that ministry is accomplished. Instead of racking our brains for better methods or more talented people, we should be seeking God for a fresh filling of His Spirit, so we can venture forth and accomplish the work of God.

How encouraging this message must have been for Zerubbabel. Not only was the weight of ministry taken off his shoulders, but he was given the promise that the God who started the work, would finish it. In a matter of months, this promise was fulfilled as the Temple was erected and the worship services reinstated.

Pastor Jim

 

The Call Of God

Hebrews 5:1
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”

Hebrews 5:4
“And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.”

The purpose in referring to the old testament priesthood, was to show that the ministry of Jesus is far superior to their ministry. However, by bringing these verses to our attention, the text gives some key insights into serving the Lord. There are four words in these two verses that are worthy of our consideration. We are told the priests were “taken” and “appointed.” This means they were chosen out of the tribe of Levi, and the family of Aaron, and set apart for the service of God. Next we are told, their service was an “honor” and a “calling.” No one could step into this service, apart from the sons of Aaron. It was the highest of all callings, and carried with it the greatest honor.

I think, in some ways, we have lost sight of the call of God. It seems to me, many of us have a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to serving the Lord. We may sense that God is stirring us to get involved in serving, in one capacity or another, only to put it off because we think we are not qualified, it is not important, or we will one day get around to it. We need to have a better understanding of the call of God.

Notice, we are told, “no man takes this honor unto himself”. When it comes to Christian service, the sovereignty of God plays a critical role. In the Priesthood, it was God who selected the family of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. When it comes to New Testament ministry, we are told the Holy Spirit gives us gifts “individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11 KJV). Those gifts are given so ministry might be accomplished. When you sense a stirring within you to get involved in service, recognize that as the high call of God.

When this life comes to its end, we will care very little about the time we kept for ourselves, but we will revel in the time given to the Lord, in the service of others.

Pastor Jim

 

Called To Serve 

Jeremiah 1:5
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

There are many fields where we must leave the work to the professionals. It would be utter folly to attempt dentistry on yourself, and working on gas lines or electricity, without proper training, can be deadly. However, when it comes to ministry, we need to realize that each and every Christian has been called. Paul explained, it is actually the believers, not the professionals, who are called to the work.

Ephesians 4:12 “. . .for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

That being said, Jeremiah’s experience is a perfect example of the call of God on our lives. Four critical truths are revealed.

First, God explains to Jeremiah that “He formed him.” In other words, all of the gifts, talents, abilities, strengths and weaknesses that made up the man Jeremiah, were designed by God. It seems to me, our first response whenever we sense a call of God on their life, is to immediately bring up all the reasons we are not qualified. It is almost as though we have forgotten that God designed us the way He did so when ministry is accomplished, He alone receives the glory.

Second, Jeremiah is told that God “knew him.” Notice the tense. God has been watching Jeremiah; and all his faults, failures and sins were not a surprise to Him. While unrepentant sin will shelve us from usefulness in the Kingdom, our past sins and even present struggles, do not. One of the great pitfalls in the Christian life, is when we are constantly looking back at our faults, instead of keeping our eyes on Christ and pressing on.

Third, Jeremiah was told God sanctified him. The term sanctified means to set apart. God is explaining that Jeremiah was selected specifically for the task at hand. Sanctification carries at least two ideas. First, God has set us apart from all others, for the task at hand. Second, we set ourselves apart to God, from worldliness and sin, so we can be effectively used by Him. Many, who have the call of God on their lives, fail to remove themselves from worldliness, and as a result, never accomplish the task for which God designed them.

Finally, Jeremiah was told that God ordained him. Ordination today is often reduced to a church or ministry organization giving an individual a certificate of some kind, allowing them to do certain tasks within that organization. Biblically, the word means that God has placed His hand upon a person, equipping them for all that He has called them to do. When we are called by God, we are also equipped by God. You will never find a passage in Scripture where God asks someone to do the impossible and leaves them to their own strength. Nor will you ever find God calling you without equipping you. The problem is, the enabling only comes when the tasks is being accomplished.

One parting thought. In Verse 17, God tells Jeremiah to “prepare himself.” If you are sensing the call of God, it is time to get prepared. Personal study of the Word, and getting plugged into your church’s discipleship program, are essential to preparation for ministry.

Pastor Jim

Back To Work

Ezra 5:2
“So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.”

Not long after returning to Jerusalem, the people became greatly discouraged in the work of the Lord. Things were moving slowly, and they were facing a great deal of opposition from those around them. Soon, the work of the Lord ceased all together. It is worth noting what encouraged the people to resume the work, and finish the task to which God called them. We read simply, “the prophets of God were with them, helping them.” The help was provided in the form of exhortations to the people to continue in the work of God.

From the book of Haggai, we learn these discouraged people neglected the work of the house of God, and their efforts were spent building and remodeling their own homes. It seems they were experiencing the effects of having a divided heart. They had expressed a desire to help further the kingdom of God, only to be sidelined with pursuits of their own. Haggai’s message was simple,

Haggai 1:4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

I wonder how often we have found ourselves in the same situation. The difficulty of serving the Lord has caused us to neglect ministry. Perhaps all we need is a solid nudge to get back to work. Whatever we are facing, it is time to get involved in the work of the Lord.

Once the people determined to get back to work, they faced the same struggles which caused them to quit in the first place. The work was still difficult and the opposition great. It was at this point that Zechariah added to Haggai’s message. He declared,

Zechariah 4:6 “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

For years our yard was a mess. A hurricane had leveled trees, and a broken irrigation system caused nothing but the weeds to grow. My approach was to ignore it; I felt the job was just too big. After an extended period of time and gentle nudges from my wife, I finally decided to tackle the project; only to find I lacked the strength to accomplish it on my own. I quickly found I was not really on my own. Upon making a couple phone calls, others came to my aid. They helped remove tree stumps, weeds and unwanted thorn bushes. Too often, we neglect the work of God because it is too much for us to handle; not realizing we are not, in fact, on our own. The Spirit of God will always provide whatever we need, to do whatever He has called us to.

Pastor Jim

 

Heavy Lifting 

2 Chronicles 2:5-6
“And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?”

Solomon faced a great predicament, he desired to build a temple where God and man could meet, but he realized that all the heavens were too small to contain Him. He knew the dwelling place for God must be grand, but he also knew that no earthly building could ever truly reflect the glory of God. The temple he would build would be a mere shadow of the real glory of God, and was designed to point Israel to the Lord. For generations to come, this building would serve as a place where man worshipped God, and was the focal point of many revivals within the nation. It interests me that this glorious building was the byproduct of a multitude of people investing their many different gifts. In fact, we find thousands of men were hired for the work of quarrying stones alone. Seemingly, innumerable man hours were spent doing nothing more than working with rocks.

Sometimes, it is difficult to see the value in what we are doing for the Lord. We might have a role in the ministry much like a wood cutter or stone mason. We swing a hammer or lift heavy objects, and do not see the intrinsic spiritual value in what we are doing. I think it is important to step back and see the big picture. Without the massive foundation stone, there would have been no altar, tabernacle or mercy seat. The stones were truly the foundation upon which the ministry was built.

The temple serves as a illustration of the church. There are ministries like worship, prayer, and Bible teaching that are clearly spiritual. However,  for these ministries to be effective, there are a host of things that must take place. Cars need to be parked, people need to be welcomed, children need to be cared for, the rooms need to be properly prepared, the lights have to work, and the list goes on and on. In many ways, those who are laboring in the things that may seem mundane, make it possible for people to encounter the Lord. Don’t reduce any service for the Lord as though it didn’t matter. If you are a stone mason, then cut away with all you heart.

Pastor Jim