“…and in their ministering to the LORD and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate to Me both Barnabas and Saul to the work to which I have called them,”
Acts 13:2 (LSV)
Service Unto the Lord
“No one can truly work for the Lord who has not first learned to minister to Him. It was while Barnabas and Saul ministered unto the Lord and fasted that the voice of the Spirit was heard calling them to special service.
And it was to the divine call they responded, not to the appeal of human need. They had heard no voice but the voice of the Spirit: they had seen no claims but the claims of Christ. It was on His authority alone that they went forth.”
– Watchman Nee
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me”
It is important for us to reacquaint ourselves often with the words of Jesus during his earthly walk. Let those words reverberate within our hearts and pierce through the rhetoric. There is something so uncompromising about His Call. May we meditate upon these words of His and allow them the full and undivided attention of our hearts. The solemnity of His Call to us is not to a mere forgiveness of sins (as overwhelming and precious as that is). His Call is to Himself. Our redemption is for His glory and the following of Him. His whole design is to bring forth a people who are no longer their own, but rather “As He is, so ARE WE in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Look at the depth of His conversations with those who heard His Call:
“He said to another, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.”
“But Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce God’s Kingdom.”
“And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house”
“And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”
There is power in the Call of Christ that defies logic. There is a stark contrast between then and now; between the perception of Jesus in our day and the Jesus presented to us in the Gospels. The Call of Christ is to the “whole” of us, not just a portion. Our response is not to be a casual one where we fit His Call into our daily life as if it were a part-time occupation. The Call is to Him; to sacrifice and to a determined relinquishment of all that we are.
Paul reiterates this in his plea to the Church at Rome.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”
There is a pleading in the ministration of the Call of God that this becomes an experiential truth. The things we allow in ourselves, and in the lives of those who claim to know Him, reveal our ignorance of His claim upon us. Sin no longer disturbs the majority. We look lightly upon the issues of others because we look lightly upon the issues within our own hearts.Lethargy is contagious; as contagious as any pandemic with eternal implications far beyond the loss of life here on earth.
Paul left no doubt with the Church at Colosse as to the purpose of the true ministry of God.
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”
What did this intensity of heart look like?
“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily”
The mighty working of Christ within is revealed in a life of labour without; it is the exposé of His claim upon us. There is no place for the lethargy and indifference men and women display to the Call of God.
We Are Not Our Own
We may declare such things, we may present our claims of following God, but the reality of the life we live may reveal something different. The works of a life reveal the faith of the life. In Revelation God declared unto every location of the Church in that day, “I KNOW THY Works”. God is ever beholding our works for by them He knows our faith.
The validity of our love for Him and the power of Him working within us is readily expressed in our interaction with our brothers and sisters. Paul sums up his expression of the workings of Christ within: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom…”. If mere confessions of faith were sufficient (as is commonly taught today), why did Paul express warnings, admonitions, and exhortations to the people of God? To the church at Ephesus, one of the crown jewels of the early church, Paul declared:
“Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears”
The deception and lethargy of a confession-based gospel has produced the slumbering church of our day! It produces a blindness to the magnificence, grandeur, and enormity of His Holiness. We have reduced Him to professions which require nothing more than a mental assent which consequently requires nothing, costs nothing, and correspondingly produces nothing. A confession without sacrifice leaves people without resources to face what lies ahead. Ministries must heed the Call of God to build up His Church and to prepare His people for the storm which is about to engulf our land. He is coming first of all to judge His church to the intent that in righteousness He may then be free to judge the world.
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
1 Peter 4:17-18
The time IS COME upon us! Let those who have ears to hear tremble and seek Him afresh that we may be found “doing” when our Master returns. Take no comfort in confessions and doctrines which do not produce the Fear of the Lord, that do not bring forth a growing holiness and purity of heart. Forsake the delusion of heart which enjoys hearing the word, discussing the word, while yet refusing to obey the word.
A New Ministration of Mercy
It is a day to seek a new ministration of His Mercy; a mercy which produces sacrificial living and bringing forth of a new worship which is costly, pure and holy.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…”
The true mercy of God enables men and women to give themselves wholly unto God, not to comfort them in their sins and rebellion.
May we as His redeemed rise up to respond wholly to the Call of God in Christ!
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power”
2 Thessalonians 1:11
“The ministry of Christ is not a profession: ministers are not professional gentlemen; ministers of the right kind are called from eternity, and cannot help uttering what is in them, and they are not always aware of the reach of their own meaning. They pass through periods of madness, wondering what, and what manner of time the Spirit of God within them doth signify when it tells them of coming blue skies and summers that shall encircle the globe, and songs that shall make the welkin ring with infinite joy. Do not bind the poor solitary man down as if he had invented the message, and must grammatically interpret it and bind it within parsing bounds, nor judge him by his after conduct; he is an instrument; through him God sends sounds mysterious, messages beneficent, gospels that are saving. He is not a professional gentleman. If any young men are coming into the ministry as a profession, God hinder them, build up a great granite wall in the face of them and starve them until they begin to repent and pray. We are either in the Kingdom of God or we are not in it, we cannot climb into it by ways of our own making and processes of our own invention: and if we are in it men will know by a subtle, mysterious, magnetic music and power that we have something to say not to be found on the decaying and fading pages of earthly wisdom.”
– Joseph Parker (Sermons on the Gospel of John)
“If the foot shall say,
Because I am not the hand,
I am not of the body;
is it therefore not of the body?”
I Corinthians 12:15
Value. Even in earthly things the value of something is based on what someone will pay for it, not its intrinsic worth. Something that may be of little value to one is priceless to another. In the Church at Corinth there was much dissimulation and controversy because there was much value put on specific expressions while others were minimized. Today we have a similar situation where multitudes of God’s redeemed people sit in ignorance of the wealth and the precious investment that is theirs in Christ Jesus. We all admire a gracious ministration of God in an individual, but the truth of the New Covenant is that Jesus paid the SAME PRICE for every man. He tasted the SAME DEATH for everyone that calls upon HIS NAME. The attitude expressed here “because I am not the hand”, therefore I am of less value is really an expression of unbelief rather than humility. Function does not determine value, rather the price paid! How we need to see things through the eyes of our Redeemer! We hear things such as; “I could never preach like that, pray like that” and that may be true. However, it is the “I” that is the problem, not the giver. For there to be unity, life and glory in the Body of Christ there is no room for I. This is His Body and HE PLACES the members in it as it pleases HIM not us; there is no such thing as something insignificant in God’s Eternal purposes. What HE has purchased is to become a priceless, unique and powerful expression of HIS LIFE. It is UNBELIEF that says “because I am not the hand, I am not of the body…” It is the recipient of the one talent which hid his portion in the ground that received such a stern judgement from the hand of the Lord.
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”
II Corinthians 5:11
The FEAR OF THE LORD is the great leveler of men. Paul is stating here that the thing that propelled HIM from one city to the next in HIS declaration of the Gospel was the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord does not paralyze men it enables men to walk, live and be responsible to the investment of the Lord in our lives. It causes us to face our own unbelief and ARISE to walk in HIS PROVISION. It frees us from the fear of man, the fear of inadequacy and the fear of failure. It brings us to the awful recognition that it is to HIM that I must give an account, and that it is a terrible sin to hold the precious things of HIM in faithless inactivity and unbelief. This is the DAY for the people of God to ARISE and LIVE and WALK in the provisions of the SON in OUR FATHER’S HOUSE. All things are HIS, and HE is looking for a healthy return upon the investment that HE has given.
The validity of any ministry is revealed in the degree of life that the people of God exhibit within the sphere of its influence. Unique, powerful and varied expressions pulsate with a life that only lives to bring glory, honour and praise unto HIM from which all things do flow. The purpose of ministry is to bring others into their own ministry by ministering faith and responsibility into the life of each believer. For it is in each member feeling the “weight” of their obligation unto their Lord and Saviour that this body will arise in such glory and power that this world will know that this is indeed the Body of Christ.
“…but God hath tempered the body together,having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:That there should be no schism in the body;but that the members should have the same care one for another“
I Corinthians 12:24 – 25
It is in the doing of these things that they become the everyday reality of our lives. We must tear down these strongholds for the desire of the Lord is to bring us to the same love one for another that there be no schism in the body of Christ.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith,saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven,and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Malachi 3:10 – 11
We hear much of tithing. How repulsive that it has become only a tithing of the unrighteousness mammon and not a tithing of the produce of the Lord within the hearts of the individual believer! How dare we believe that in giving more money the result will be “meat in HIS HOUSE”! Finances will not produce spiritual meat to supply the people of God with strength in the power of HIS MIGHT! The Church of Jesus Christ is a SPIRITUAL House not an earthly organization! A Spiritual house needs spiritual tools to build it, and it is in the functioning of each and every member that this house will arise and be fully completed!
This is the day for the people of God to walk in their gifts and callings and to know the responsibility and necessity of bringing their spiritual tithes into the storehouse, that there may be fullness and blessing in our midst.
“What difference does it make to you
what someone else becomes, or says, or does?
You do not need to answer for others,
only for yourself”
THOMAS À KEMPIS (C. 1380–1471)
“There is no man living that can do the work that God has got for me to do. No one can do it but myself. And if the work ain’t done we will have to answer for it when we stand before God’s bar” D.L. Moody
“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him”
The purpose of all true ministry is to raise up and encourage others in their own ministration of the living Christ. All who would faithfully minister from the heart and love of God will inherently seek this for the welfare of the Body of Christ and the glory of God. This desire is not for the perpetuation of a church but for the growth of the One Church. Sadly, the church in our day has seen little of the fruit of ministry in terms of producing powerful and unique ministrations. The error of today is that rather than making disciples unto God we have perverted this truth to mean having disciples of a ministry, organization or dogma. With each passing generation the light of God becomes more dim as the life of ministry fades. Things which were once light slip into traditions; a peculiar gift of one individual (though unique and powerful in itself) becomes a model to imitate. This form, which in itself has no light or power, is passed on from one generation to another rather than receiving God’s gift from Christ Himself. God’s creativity cannot be replicated.
Joshua’s walk with God was his own. Moses had instilled in him the solemn charge to obey God and Him alone. The fear of God is the only hope for a generation; it is God’s answer to the fear of man. Only the fear of God can rescue His people from the adulation of men.
Conformity is the law of religion; transformation is the life of His Church.
There is no life in a copy.
All the works of God are unique, fresh and filled with His power. When people seek to emulate another they rob themselves of God’s purpose. Emulation, jealously and envy are the trappings of those who have not found their own call in God; the fruit of an individual who is not walking in a personal relationship with God. It is the horror of a generation who has not made God the Lord.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”
Weeping expresses some of the deepest emotions of our humanity. It reveals life, empathy and love. Weeping in the valleys of our own life is the precursor to a greater purpose; weeping with and for others. These experiences give us the grace to identify with others.
“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:4
The comfort gained in our own trials brings a depth and capacity to share the comfort of the Lord with others. Compassion is a grace produced by sorrow. It is the press of this sorrow from which the wine of the joy of the Lord flows. His workings in us are not solely for our benefit; God always has a higher end in mind. He is ever looking for the seed of a thing to become a harvest. He sees the harvest and the multiplication of the Christ in each of us into the lives around us. He so desires us to see beyond the limited horizon of our own selves to the “fields which are ripe unto harvest”.
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”
2 Corinthians 1:5-6
The cause of Mary’s weeping became the fountain of her greatest joy.
“Why weepest thou?”
Weeping has purpose and as we grow in our walk with Him the why reveals the maturity and depth of our life in Him. At every stage within the disciple’s walk weeping has tremendous purpose and it is as the wine matures and deepens within us that our tears for ourselves are turned into the tears for others.
How good and wise are the ways of God and may we in the valleys see the distant prospects of a harvest unto our God and Father by the very life of the Son arising from the ashes of our own experience.
“Blessed are they who mourn for they SHALL be comforted”
God’s Love by its very nature is an active and creative power within the soul of man. Creation is proof of God ever seeking, ever desiring to expend and lavish His love in new dimensions. The Word declares that we were “created for His pleasure” and it is His pleasure to pour out Himself in unmeasured and unmerited means. His Love in us seeks, desires and ever works to color everything within its reach; not to own, rule or control but to inspire others to live fully in God.
The infinite and all-encompassing God whom our forefathers sought with passion calls us to depths unknowable and heights unsearchable.
“Deep calleth unto deep”
The Love of God is the call and His Love in man is the response.
“We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
“He said “Love…as I have loved you.” We cannot love too much.”
“Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles”
2 Timothy 1:11
Those appointed of God know definitively His divine call upon their lives. The “Christian” experience is not to be one of aimless wandering in some religious wilderness. Those who know their God feel the weight of His call; they are not left to their own ways and choices. There is a sense of accountability deep within their being. While others may go and do, seemingly at will, such is not the life of the called.
Paul in his Epistles declares over and over that his apostolic expression is “not by the will of men”. It is a call that requires separation and obedience. It is a call to God Himself and not to an organization, ministry or selfish motives. God’s call leaves room for no one but Himself. Without hearing and responding to His call we will wander in a barren land without a sense of purpose.
It takes little effort, even in casual conversation, to recognize one who knows the Call of God. There is a fire, a passion and a desire for an apprehension of those things to be accomplished in their lives. There is an intensity that transcends the status quo of attending meetings, hearing messages and having casual religious conversations. Paul cries out with this intensity that he might “…apprehend that for which he had been apprehended”. This cry is not the result of a teaching. The cry is the result of the call. Without the call there is no drive to apprehend; no sense of being held accountable to fulfill His call. Meetings, conferences and sermons will easily satisfy those to whom the call has become distant and dim. The fire fades and the need to obtain and fulfill His purpose loses its hold upon the reins of their life. Retirement and comfort becomes more important than fulfilling the call. Those in whom the fire has gone out distance themselves from those who challenge them to rise up and press into their call.
How good and precious is the fear of the Lord! It holds us to our course. It keeps us attentive to the things of Him in our life. We are constantly stirred by the keeping power of His Spirit to stay on task concerning our portion in Him. It is here, as we seek out others with this fire and intensity, that we discover the real purpose of fellowship. The glory of knowing the call of God brings a sense of walking in an appointed way. This brings a certainty of purpose in the challenges of life.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are THE CALLED according to HIS PURPOSE”