Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thankfulness in ministry.

Key Insight: Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

His life and ministry was nearing its climax. There were some things he had to share with his son in the faith, Timothy. It appears that this young man was having a tough time in the work at Ephesus. To encourage him Paul writes his first letter to Timothy. Over the years I thank God for those who have encouraged me in ministry.

The aged apostle expressed his gratitude to God for appointing him to the work of the ministry. (1Timothy 1:12) I wonder how Timothy took this. He knew the trials and tribulations which had pursued Paul since the Damascus road conversion. (2 Timothy 3:10-12). Paul in effect was saying, “Cheer up my son, it’s in the tough times you appreciate the grace of God. I know this from my experiences.”

To thrive rather than merely survive in the Lord’s service requires an inner strength. This power goes beyond what a gym can provide. Paul confessed that the strength for ministry flowed from Jesus. He works it in the believer and is known in everyday life and tribulations. The Greek word Paul used, endunameo, means ‘in-strengthened’. He used this word in Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.’ This was no glib saying or pious bumper sticker. Here was his personal testimony through the rough and tumble of life’s complexity and difficulties.

We live in a corrupt world. Here the holiness of God, the Cross of Christ and His salvation lifestyle are opposed, slandered and ignored. As His representatives we will face similar treatment to varying degrees. The hardest to handle are not those outside the Church who give us a rough time. The hardest will be the ‘Corinthian spirit’ within the Church (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).  Disciples and servants of Christ can be driven from the ministry and worship by such carnal pressures. Such ungodliness should drive the faithful to the heart of Jesus. There the strength to endure will be found.

 The time frame Paul alluded to is interesting. Jesus considered him faithful long before Paul had been appointed to the ministry. Any who are called to serve the Lord should find this a wonderful encouragement. In my case Jesus saw beyond my immaturity and frivolity and considered me faithful. In spite of obvious weaknesses the Lord took me under His supervision. He wrought out of me what He first worked in. Jesus is the faithful one. His trust in you is personal. Here's an unbeatable incentive to honour his confidence.

Faithfulness doesn’t mean failure-less. Faithfulness doesn’t mean having all the answers. Faithfulness is remaining true to the Lord and His Word. Faithfulness means learning from personal mistakes, finding wisdom, forgiving and being forgiven. Many a congregation must surely warrant some type of medal from the Lord for their grace and patience with novice preachers. Fortunate are those beginners in the pulpit who have some sensitive and godly person take them under their ‘wing.’ A good example of such a thing happening in the New Testament concerned Aquila and Priscilla. This couple got beside Apollos, invited him into their home, and explained the way of God more adequately. (Acts 18:26).
Paul was apostle, prophet and pastor beyond peer. In 1 Timothy 1:12 he used one of the lowliest term to describe the heights of Christian service. Paul was eternally grateful that Jesus had made him a deacon, a table waiter. Why choose this title? Probably because it was the one Jesus applied to Himself in Matthew 20:28, ‘…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…’ Jesus served Humanity as a Deacon. He most wonderfully demonstrated that at the Passover meal by washing the disciples’ feet. Paul would not presume to put himself above his Lord. Nor should we!

Reflection: In your present stage of ministry how burns the passion? Do you need to find a quiet place and regain your inner strength from your Lord?  He has counted you faithful!What are you doing to prove His verdict correct?

Request: Strengthen me within so that I might be faithful for you. May those who are looking to me in the various stresses and strains of ministry know you are my endunameo Amen!

Ray Hawkins Oct 19th. 2015.

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