Tag Archives: Ministry

Called Of God

Hebrew 5:1-4

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron

The writer of Hebrews now starts to explain the role of the High priest.  This is essential to our understanding of our salvation.  God’s plan started way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned.  It was not just a haphazard thing God threw together as He went along. In the garden, God had to cover Adam & Eve with the skin of an animal, and sin has had to be covered by a blood sacrifice ever since.  Abel offered from the flock and his sacrifice was accepted.  Cain did not and his was not.  Abraham offered sacrifices to the Lord, and was willing to give his son if God required him too.  Moses listened to God in the wilderness and set in motion the reason for and type of sacrifices at God’s command.  The book of Leviticus spells this out.  But even before that, God required a blood sacrifice to keep the death angel from destroying the Israeli first born during the first Passover.

Once the nation of Israel was in the wilderness, God gave Moses the design for the temple and the types of sacrifices needed.  The book of Leviticus spells these out in great detail.  The burnt offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the peace offering and the meat offering were all required from the people.  I won’t go into detail on these, but it would be good for you to read about them if you have not.  The first 10 chapters of Leviticus are hard to read, but so fundamental in our understating of the price Christ paid.  Jesus fulfilled all of these sacrifices for us on the cross.  What a Savior!

Then Moses gave instructions for the high priest, his garments, his anointing.  This was Aaron at the time.  His job was to oversee all the sacrifices given, and there were plenty.  It was a bloody place all the time, and the aroma of the sacrifices went up through the camp at all times.  He had the rest of the priests and the Levites to help him carry out this task.  These priests were chosen out of the tribe of Judah because the firstborn was spared in the land of Egypt.  God required the firstborn, yet He allowed the Israelites to offer the Levites instead of their firstborn.  Thus, the tribe of Levi became the priests and servants of the temple.   This was there calling from the day they were born until the day they died.  And one man was chosen high priest, for he was the one who would offer that special offering on the day of atonement, which we will discuss at length in a future study.  The duty of the priest was to have compassion on all and to accept their sacrifice to God for whatever reason they were giving it.  He offered for all the people and for himself.

This position was not one that the priest just one day decided he would take up.  It was a calling from God.  In Old Testament times, the priest was from the tribe of Levi.  Today, the priesthood is a calling from God as well.  In fact, any ministry is a calling from God.  We tend to look at some ministries as les important than others, but God only looks at faithfulness to what He has asked us to do.  Are we doing what he asks us to do?  This was the duty of the [priest then, and it is the duty of every Christian today because Peter tells us we are a royal priesthood.  It is our duty to bring the gospel to others, and to let them know their sins have been forgiven by the bold of Christ.  As we continue through Hebrews this whole picture will unfold. What are you called to do?  Some are sowers of seed, and pass out tracks, and witness endlessly.  Some are worship leaders, or Sunday School teachers or VBS helpers.  Some are janitors, or cooks, or dishwashers.  Some sell, some make things, some fix things, some observe things.  No matter what your calling is, you were given the ability and the desire by your creator, and should always keep that in mind when carrying out your duties.  We could do nothing without Him.  The more we can tune into His voice, the more He can show us the way through the problems and adversities that will come up while we carry out our calling.  They are bound to come.  Jesus told the disciples that in this world they would have tribulation.  He knew they would face difficulties and would be rejected and laughed at.  But then He said that He has overcome the world, and that we should not be afraid to do what He asks us to do.  What am I waiting for?

A Merciful and Faithful High Priest

Hebrews 2:16-18

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Jesus could have come to earth any way He chose.  He could have had a kingly birth and sat on a throne ruling over the people of this world, or just of Israel.  There could have been international coverage on the news of the royal birth, a new era in the kingdoms of this world.  There would be a golden crib for him to sleep in, and covers of the softest fabric, woven especially for him.  Lavish gifts could have been offered.

Or he could have come as a sharp and shrew business man, taking the corporate world by storm with his unwavering commitment to excellence and profit.   He could have had the fastest rising stock on the NYSE.  His sharp business man would have brought many to him to seek wisdom for their own business.  He would have sat on many corporate boards due to his decision-making prowess.

Or he could have come as a dynamic motivational speaker, wowing crowds as he told them how to succeed in business and in life.  He would have wisdom and dynamic stories to tell them of the3 ways in which they could thrive in life, love, business, and pleasure.  He could have elevated even the meekest person, or the one who had no drive at all to do spectacular things.  All who listened to him would have been blessed.

But He chose none of these ways.  Instead, he came to be born in a stable with a bunch of smelly animals and the stench they leave behind.  He made himself equal to us, lower than the angels, although the angels worshipped Him in heaven.  He came in a place that was crowded and insignificant because they had no place to put him in any of the inns in town.  He came in obscurity, for none to see except some lowly shepherds who had been told to come by those same angels that worshipped Him in heaven.  They could not just stand by and let Him come with no one knowing, So, they came and heralded their song to shepherds in the field, not kings, or business men, or motivational people.  Lowly shepherds.  Jesus came like we would have back then.  Nothing special except to a few.

In doing so, he showed Himself meek and lowly.  He did not show Himself as the Son of God that he was.  People saw Him continually having mercy on those He came near.  Whether it was by His words or His touch, he was always faithful to show mercy.  There was nothing special about Him except the amazing ministry He had.  I love the epic movie “Jesus of Nazareth”.  In it, Jesus is shown as one whose eyes could look right  

Through a person, almost as if He could see their thoughts and heart.  I imagine when he was on this earth, those eyes were real!  He did not call Himself a priest, or a king, or a ruler.  Simply the Son of God, simply the Son of Man.  He was both at the same time.

But in reality, He was a high priest.  The highest of all priests, The high priest was the one who took the blood into the Holy of Holies on the day or Redemption to make atonement for all the people – all of them.  The blood of a perfect lamb, without spot of blemish.  He came to offer His own blood, perfect and without blemish, for the sins of all the people.  All the people for the rest of time.  Me, you, your neighbor, your friends, your enemies, your co-workers. All the people.  He faced the temptations of life, but he never gave in.  He was the spotless Lamb of God! Yet He came as a man.

And because He came as a man, He faced the same temptations we all face.  He faced the adulterous woman.  He faced the angry crowds.  He faced false accusations and rumors about who He really was.  The devil himself came and tempted Him in the wilderness to follow the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.  Everything I have been tempted with he was tempted with.  The difference is, He never gave in, or gave up.  He stayed pure so he could be the required sinless sacrifice for sin.  He also can now identify with what we go through and help us get through it ourselves.

Have you ever noticed that the best people to seek counsel from are those who have been through the same thing you are going through?  The person who has had an abortion and now knows the downside is the best one to help a person avoid the pitfalls that come with that experience.  The person who has recovered from an addiction, whether it be drugs, or alcohol, or pornography, is the best one to seek counsel from if you are battling the same demons.  The person who is successful is the best person to seek guidance from for success in life.  No matter what arena you talk about, you can learn more from someone who has been there then from someone who has not.

What have you been through?  What areas of life can you help someone cope with?  Are you reaching out in those areas and making a difference whenever you can?  Personally, I have been through cancer.  My long battle was successful.  Now I am writing a book about that (it’s a slow process).  I have been through addiction counseling and I can now help people to see a way out.  I have had a successful marriage and can help people walk through the dark valleys that come our way, as I have with my wife.  Those things I have been through make me a valuable person for others to talk to. Ask God where you can be a light shining in the darkness for someone else.  Ask Him to bring people your way so you may shine that light of yours into their life and make them brighter!  We are here for each other, not for ourselves.  Make a difference today!

Could I Be a Bishop?

Titus 1:5-9

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Paul left Titus in Crete for a specific purpose.  He was to get the church in order so it could minister effectively to the people. Crete had been a stopping point on the way to Italy, the last harbor they left before they were shipwrecked many days after.  We don’t read of any revival or preaching that Paul did in Crete, but there must have been a church there and, if so, Paul must have had some influence on that island.  It seems everywhere Paul went, he left behind the gospel.  Oh, how I wish I was more life that.  Always telling people about Jesus and about the salvation only he can bring

I was listening to a radio program yesterday and heard the story of a Muslim man who converted to Christianity.  He told about his disgust for the Muslim religion because it had been taken over be zealots who were giving it a bad name, and he was tired of the hypocrisy of the whole religion.  In fact, he decided he wanted no religion at all if this is what religion is.  He was going to become and atheist, but then he heard about something different., He heard the story of a Savior who came to set all people free.  That Savior wanted a relationship with all people, and it was as simple as asking Him.  This was not a religion; it was a relationship.  This is what His heart longed for, and this is the story Paul told to all those people he met in his travels.  This is what I need top be better at sharing.

How better to share than to live a life that shows people who Jesus is, and how much He loves them?  To be a light in their darkness, a voice in their wilderness, a way in their loneliness and a peace in the storm.  We can be all those things to others if we show them the way to have this relationship.  How better to show them then to live a life that points to Jesus and exemplifies what Jesus wants for them?  How do I do this?  Simple! I live the life of an elder and deacon, described above.

It is intriguing to me that the first characteristic he lists is blameless.  I have not looked up this word but want to give you what I see as the definition of blameless.  To me, it means that no one can point to me and say “There is a sinner, a mocker, a backbiter, a gossiper, a slanderer, a thief.  There is someone who murmurs and complains all the time.  There is someone who is not happy with life but is always spreading sorrow and tears.  There is someone who does not have their life together, who walks in pride and arrogance, who thinks he is better than me.”  Blameless on all counts.  Blameless of having a negative effect on people.  Blameless in doing anything that would cripple my testimony for Christ.  I can understand why Paul puts this qualification first.  This is the first thing people see.  They see our demeanor and disposition.  They see how we live our lives, react to situations and walk through storms.  They see us at out best and at our worst.  They draw conclusions on what they see.  If we are not blameless, they blame us for their lack of interest in Christ.  They see our hypocrisy and want no part of it.  We Must be blameless!

My family life must be in order.  Polygamy must have ben a thing back then, so Paul says a man must only have one wife to qualify.  Many use this verse to say a man cannot serve as a bishop if he divorces and re-marries. I do not read it that way.  It simply says he should have one wife now, and that his family must run effectively and spiritually.  There should not be a riotous atmosphere or unruly children.  I failed miserably here and am so thankful God keeps His word about our children – that they will return to the teachings of their youth.  My children were very unruly, but God forgives and forgets, and so should I. If God will lovingly take His children back when they have sinned and done Him wrong, how much more should I do the same?  It’s time for fathers to stand up and do what is right, and reconcile their families.

Third, he should not be self-willed.  I should not let pride run my life.  I did this for many years and hope I never return to that lifestyle.  I don’t want to be self-willed.  I want to be God-willed.  God centered.  God minded.  I want the fruit of the spirit running through my veins and overflowing in my life.  I need peace and joy not anger.  I need temperance, not drunkenness, or violence or greed.  These lifestyle choices are mine to make and I should make them wisely.  They affect my testimony.  They affect everyone around me.  Instead, I must be hospitable, holy and just.  I need to like people and have a desire to see the best for them. Lastly, and most importantly, I must make sure I am following sound doctrine and I have a good grasp of scripture.  After all the goal here is to be a bishop and a bishop, I must be a good witness, and must be able to answer questions about the faith. I must make sure I am teaching sound doctrine and not running after false teaching.  There is a multitude of false teaching out their right now, and we must do our best to show people the right way, and they only way, to God.  It is my responsibility to know why I love Jesus and what that has done for me.  As Paul said in our last lesson, God has committed these things to us so we can share them with others.  Let us now be weary in well doing!

What Has God Committed to You

Titus 1:1-4

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m not sure what God’s will is for my life?”  I have, plenty of times.  I have even said this about myself on occasion.   In my case, I thought God would make it real clear what he wanted me to do, and I would have aa sense of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt this was God’s plan and God’s direction. I figured someone would come along with a word of knowledge or a prophesy telling me this was God’s plan.  I feel this way because this did happen once in my life.  I received a powerful prophecy and it came into reality just a few months later.  I may have shared this story here before, but it fits well here so I will share it again.

In the spring of 2008, my pride rose up to the point that I did something’s that were completely against my company policy, against Godly wisdom and against everything I said I believed in.  I felt I was above the policies and procedures I had written for my company.  I was a sales manager, after all, and I brought in a lot of business to the company.  Surely looking at some porn on company computers would just get me a hand slap if anyone found out.  Even if I printed some pictures that were borderline illegal; I would not be punished.  And how would they ever find out?  I was very careful.

But they did find out, and I was quickly and unceremonially released from my position and asked to clean out my desk and leave the property.  I was distraught.  Next, I had to tell my wife.  She was angry.  Then to tell my Pastor.  He was upset.  I had been caught doing things before and he slowly had worked me back into his trust.  Now I had betrayed him again.  He found out about Pure Life Ministries and said I needed to go there or never set foot in his church again.  I went, and it was a life changing experience.  Upon leaving, in December of 2008 my counselor there said wait two years before doing any kind of ministry.  I had been a worship leader, deacon, lay minister and deacon in my church.  While I was there, my wife started attending a different church, one we had been involved with before.  So, I went there and sat, and sat and sat. I told the Pastor it was my wife who would make the decision when I would be available for ministry.  She could tell what level my pride was reaching. For a year and half I sat.

In the summer of 2010, we went to a camp meeting that we had attended ever since we met.  We had a lot of friends there and helped in the kitchen.  One morning one of the ministers came in and asked the camp director if he could start doing a Sunday morning service.  They were both friends of ours, and when the director said yes, I piped up and asked if he wanted some worship before the teaching.  He said that would be great, so I looked over at my wife and asked her what she thought.  She would play the piano, and she gave her approval.  So we led worship that first morning, the first time I had ministered at all in over a year and a half.  That night in the service, during a time of worship, that same minister came back to me with a word or prophecy.  He looked right at me and said that God was going to do something brand new in my life.  It would come from nowhere, and would overtake my life so much that I would know it was from God.  He said it would be a brand new work, unlike anything God had ever done before in my life.  I was in tears and just praising the Lord for this, having no idea what God would do.

When we got home from the services, my wife told our Pastor that she thought I was ready to help with worship again.  He started to have me work with the worship team in mid-September.  One day, when I was driving between two small towns in rural Iowa, I suddenly heard words in my head, like a poem.  But they were accompanied by a melody.  I had never heard anything like this before so I quickly pulled over to the side of the road and wrote down the words as I heard Him giving them to me in my spirit.  Once I had those written, I recorded the song on my cell phone.  This had never happened to me before.  The next day I went to my pastor and his wife and sang them this song.  They absolutely loved it.  I told them what had happened and asked what I should do next.  My Pastor, in all his wisdom, simply said “Keep Listening.”  I followed his advice and since that time over 2,000 poems, songs and choruses have come from that tiny seed.  This is what God has committed to me.

That is not all, though.  This Bible study, and all those that have come before it, are things God has committed to me.  Leading worship at my church, helping to find a good financial program, leading the men’s group and being a lay minister have all been committed to me.  Being a good husband, father and grandfather, brother and friend have been committed to me.  Being an Aflac agent. a Medicare agent, a cartographer and working in a restaurant have been committed to me.  The list goes on and on.  Whatever God has put into my life to accomplish, he has committed to me.  As such, I should do them all to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17).  All these things deserve my very best. In Paul’s case it was preaching.  Whether that was in person or through his letters, Paul had a profound effect on the course of history, not only where he want, but throughout the world.  You and I have no idea what influence we have or will have down the road.  So let us do all we can to make the most of this life and do whatever we can to the fullest of our ability.  The day of the Lord comes quickly.  Let us help others be ready!

Be Profitable to Others

2 Timothy 4:9-13

Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

13 The cloke that I left at Troas with you, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

As we read through our Bible’s, we can see all manner of examples where one person is profitable to another.  Right off the top of my head, I think of Aaron to Moses, Eli to Samuel, Jonathan to David, Isaiah to Hezekiah, Peter to James and Mark and Timothy to Paul.  I’m sure you can think of many more.  What exactly does it mean to be profitable to someone?  This Greek word is euchrestos which is only used three times in the New Testament and is typically translated useful or profitable.  One of the more intriguing translations of this word is in the KJV version of 2 Timothy 2:21, where Paul discusses purging ourselves from dead works so that we can be sanctified and meet (profitable) for the Master’s use.  So, this word profitable, used in association with Mark, tells us that Mark was very useful to Paul in ministry, so much so that he wanted Luke to bring Mark with him when he came to visit.  Paul wanted company in the confines of his Roman captivity, and who can blame him.  Demas left, Titus left and Crescans left.  The reason for their departure is clear – they could no longer endure the hardship of their time with Paul. We know this is true of Demas, as he very specifically mentions that Demas would rather love this world than suffer with the Gospel.  We are not sure if the others left for the same reason.  But Paul is now alone, and wants company.  He wants “those that would be profitable” to be there.

This makes me ponder if I am profitable to others when they are going through tough times. To be honest, I don’t think I am the most eloquent of people when tough times come around.  I don’t feel like I have the right words to say, nor do I know the right time to say them.  People who are grieving the loss of a loved one are particularly hard to minister to, especially if I have not been through the same thing.  When my Pastor lost his wife almost a year ago., I was lost for words.  I could give him scripture, I could pray, I could console to some extent.  But I never felt I had the right words because I had not been through that.  That same would be true of someone who is going through divorce, especially if it is after a long marriage.  Words can be hard to come by.  I try to find the right words, but always feel like I come up short.

On the other hand, if it is someone going through cancer, I can probably help them cope with that, or with another dread disease of illness.  I have been through that.  I have felt the lows and highs of a serious illness.  I have gone through the doubts of faith and the times when I felt useless.  I can minister to those things.  And I feel that the words I have to say in those situations are profitable and helpful, because they come from a voice with experience.  I get to thinking about the other hard times that I have gone through and realize that those are areas where I can be the best minister.  Those are the areas where I can be the most profitable to others.

James 1:2-4 tells us to take joy in the trials that we will face because those trials will test our faith, and when our faith is tested, we will become perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  So, can it be said that our trials are what make us profitable to others?  Do the worst of times bring out the best in us when we come through them.  He does promise that all things will work for good, and that He will turn the things meant for evil to good things.  The word does say that we will get to the other side, and that it came to pass, whatever it is.  When we arrive in the victory he has promised, we are then in position to be profitable to others in that going through the same trial.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons we should take joy in our trials!  They make us profitable to others.

It seems to me, in this world we live in today, that most people are more interested in who is profitable to them than who they are profitable to.  Paul did not have this mindset, although he does ask for profitable people to come see him.  Paul preached the gospel no matter what the trial or test was.  He never flinched from the truth.  Speaking these things got him stoned, shipwrecked, mocked, run out of cities, and persecuted beyond what any of us will face.  He was so profitable in his words that we still look to them for guidance and wisdom today.  What I am seeing is a world that has a “me first” mentality.  If it is not going to be profitable to me, why should I do it?  Why should I go out of my way?  I’ll just look for those things that benefit me, and who cares if I benefit others in the process.  This kind of world, and these kinds of people, lack the ability to be responsible for themselves and always look to blame others for their problems.  They want to work the hours they want to work; they don’t want to do a job that demands too much of them and heaven forbid they should get a position that pays little and asks for great service.  What’s in it for me is a question frequently asked.

This is not a Christian attitude.  The Christian should look for ways he can be profitable to others.  They should look for opportunities to serve, to assist, to comfort and to build up others.  We should speak words that bring life and grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29).  We should be a light and salt to lead others to Christ (Matthew 5:13-16).  Our lives should be poured out fully to help others in their faith (Phil 2:17).  We should look for opportunities to serve and love others so we can show them Jesus (John 13:35).  What could be more profitable than leading others to a closer walk with the Lord?

So, who should I be profitable to?  The list never ends.  I can be profitable to my Pastor by simply attending service regularly, by telling him how his message affected me, by being faithful with my tithes and offerings and by being there for him when a need arises within the church.  I can be profitable to my neighbor by helping when I see a need (not necessarily only when I am asked to help), by taking care of my leaves instead of letting them blow into his yard, by mowing that small patch of land that sits between his property and mine and is hard to get to   I can be profitable to my employer and co-workers by doing tasks that need done even if I am not assigned to do them, by being prompt, even early, for work, and staying late, if necessary, even if I’m not asked. I can be profitable to everyone I meet simply by smiling, saying hi and wishing them a blessed day.  One never knows how simple words like this might brighten up someone who is going through a hard time.

I desire to be profitable to others.  How about you?  I challenge you to look at your life and find the places you can be more profitable to those around you.  Then set out to accomplish just that.  Not because they ask, but because it’s just the right thing to do.  You will never regret it!