Ministry is About Reconciliation

Quick revelation from the Holy Ghost today during my time of devotion.

Ministry is about being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.  The purpose of a true ministry is to move people in the direction of getting right with God.

I see so many “programs”  in churches referred to as “ministries” that don’t quite meet this standard:  Does the “ministry” move people to get right with God through his son, Jesus Christ?

The basis for these thoughts?

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (2 Corinthians 5:18 KJV)

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2 Corinithians 5:20 KJV)

Be ye reconciled to God.

True ministry.

 

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Do What God Tells You To Do

Growing up my mom’s go to phrase was, “Do what I tell you to do when I tell you to do it.”

There were consequences when I went against this directive.

She meant business and did not hesitate to punish me when I was disobedient.

Those times of punishment were few and far between because:

  1. She was always very clear about her expectations so I was rarely confused about what she wanted.
  2. I did what she told me to do the majority of the time.

When I crossed the line and was punished I placed the blame where it belonged – on me.  (Although there were times when it was my brother’s fault. I promise.)

My mom’s resoluteness about obedience helped me to understand that God wants me to “do what He tells me to do.” When I don’t, there are consequences.  Just like with Mama.

How do I know what God wants me to do?

That’s easy.

Open the Bible (KJV), read it, pray and ask the Holy Ghost for wisdom and guidance.  God makes His will known to anyone who seeks Him.  He doesn’t hide His expectations.

For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy:…(Leviticus 11:44 KJV)

He has spelled out how to do this repeatedly in Scripture.

I am reading the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament. God is upset with Israel:

Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.  Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.  And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees; they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword. (Jeremiah 5:15-17 KJV)

Destruction is at hand for Israel.  God will let the enemy take everything.

Why?

…because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.  How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses….Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? (Jeremiah 5:6-7,9 KJV)

Adultery, worshiping other gods, hanging out with harlots – God is not pleased.

Israel did not do what God told them to do.

God will not let this disobedience stand without a response.

But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.  Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.  (Jeremiah 5:23-25 KJV)

Good things are withheld from Israel because of sin.

Sound familiar?

How many times have we been punished for not obeying God?  How many times have we placed the blame for our unpleasant circumstances on something else, other than the real culprit – our disobedience to God?

I can attest that when I do what God tells me to do, I have unfathomable peace in every situation.  Even when the outcome is not as I thought it should be.

I have learned to accept the punishment and blame when God chastises me for being disobedient.  Instead of complaining I ask God to reveal my faults and to cleanse my spirit.  I focus on reading the word, praying and humbly asking Him to guide everything I do.  I submit to His will.  I repent and try to “…sin no more.” (John 5:14 KJV)

Do what God tells you to do.

Don’t let sin keep good things from you.

 

What Confidence is This?

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So many questions inspired by scripture.

So many answers provided by scripture.

Today’s questions and answers were brought to me by the Old Testament.  The book of Isaiah.

The questions?

  • Who/what do you put your confidence in?
  • How does that trust confidence manifest itself?
  • What happens when you put your confidence in someone/something other than God?

 

This passage prompted this series of questions and answers:

And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trusteth?”  I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? (Isaiah 36:4-5 KJV)

So…

Rabshakeh works for the king of Assyria, Sennacherib.  He is delivering a message to Hezekiah, the king of Judah.  Eliakim, Shebna and Joah receive this message on behalf of Hezekiah (the “them” referred to in the verse).

You see, the king of Assyria was on a roll.  He was conquering all the cities in Judah and had his eyes set on Jerusalem.  He was pretty confident of another victory.

He makes the case for why he will be victorious again.  He has people to advise him and the strength of his armies to back up his plans.

He then poses this question to Hezekiah and the people of Judah – who do you trust such that you would even think about going against me?  Who is in your corner?

Rabshakeh continues:

Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you.  Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.  Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.  Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us.  Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?  Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?  But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. (Isaiah 36:14-21 KJV)

Well alrighty then!

Sennacherib was not pulling any punches.  No equivocation.  Don’t listen to Hezekiah.  That God of his was not going to save them.  Surrender or be defeated.

Look at the evidence, he says!

No one stopped him when he conquered Hamath, Arphad and Sepharvaim.

No one kept Samaria from him.

No one was going to keep him from taking Jerusalem.

Hezekiah’s people said nothing.  Held their peace as Hezekiah had instructed them.

What was Hezekiah’s response?

And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. (Isaiah 37:1 KJV)

That’s right Hezekiah!  Don’t listen to Sennacherib!

You know what God you serve!  Go to Him and see what He has to say:

Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it.  By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.  For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.  (Isaiah 37:33-35 KJV)

And the Lord did exactly as He promised:

Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.  So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Ninevah. (Isaiah 37:36-37 KJV)

The reward for Sennacherib’s trust in his false god, Nisroch?

…his sons smote him with the sword…(Isaiah 37:38  KJV)

I don’t think death is what Sennacherib had in mind.  His god didn’t come through for him after all.

The message for me is this – when I am faced with harrowing situations, no matter what, I will put my confidence in the only true God.  No matter what the circumstances look like.  No matter what has happened in the past.  No matter what the evidence suggests.  I will always have faith that God will come through for me according to His will, in His time.

How do I demonstrate that confidence?  I take all my issues to God in prayer – no one else.  I will wait for Him to respond.  I will not doubt Him.

When people speak contrary to my faith in God, I will not respond.

I will hold my peace.

What confidence is this?

The confidence that comes from serving the only true God.  The creator of everything.  The God who provides for all my needs according to His riches in glory.  The God who loved me so much that He sent his only begotten son to die for my sins so that I could be reconciled to Him and have everlasting life.

That God.

That confidence.

Confidence, indeed!

 

 

 

 

In Whatsoever State I Am

I’ve written about how Jesus’ experience in the garden of Gethsemane helped me to understand the importance of being obedient and submitting to God’s will. (Here)

The next passage of scripture taught me the importance of being at peace in ALL situations – the good and the bad.

In Philippians, Paul writes:

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:11-12 KJV)

Hmmn.

Finances terrible?  Be content.

Health not so great?  Be content.

You landed the job of your dreams?  Be content.

In whatsoever state.

This means something very important.

In order to learn to be content in all situations we must go THROUGH them.

Not around, over or under but THROUGH.

We spend a lot of time trying to avoid difficult circumstances, unwilling to soldier through.

When we can’t avoid the rough spots we go through those times feeling despondent and discouraged.  We only feel contentment when things are going well.

No.

We must go through ALL of life’s experience with a sense of contentment.  Not just the good but the unpleasant as well.

Jesus went through the “storm” of the cross.  There were no shortcuts.  He endured every lash, every hit, every discomfort, every lie, every betrayal – death, burial and resurrection – Jesus went through it.  He chose to be obedient to God’s plan even though it troubled Him.  Once He decided to be obedient to God’s will, His attitude was one of peace, contentment and a graceful recognition of His fate.

The result?

God exalted him.  Gave Him a name that is above every name.  A name at which all things in heaven, earth and hell will bow. (Philippians 2:9-10 KJV)

Be still and know that I am God…(Psalm 46:10 KJV)

Know that God is in control.

That means whatever happens is ordained of God and our role is to be obedient to His will, being content as we go through each situation.  We experience a constant state of contentment when we gracefully accept the outcome of our situations even when they are not in line with our expectations.

 

 

The key is not to be invested in a particular outcome.  Invest in obedience and submitting to God’s will.

 

Thank God in the midst of every situation.  See the blessing in every situation.  Be thankful for the opportunity to completely depend on Him.

Embrace the blessing that comes from understanding “Thy will be done” so that you can experience this:

In whatsoever state I am…I will be content.

 

 

It’s About His Will

Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane before going to the cross.

…O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt….O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done….And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.  (Matthew 26: 39, 42, 44 KJV)

I remember when the Holy Ghost revealed to me what was going on in these verses.  My relationship with God changed in an instant.

Up until that point the relationship consisted of me asking God to do what I wanted.  Dictating my desires about what I felt was best.

These verses made very clear to me that my entire perspective was wrong.

It’s about what God wants me to do.  God’s will, not mine.

Duh.

I was so convicted and humbled because this scripture isn’t about some random person praying to God.  This is Jesus we are talking about.  God’s only begotten son!

He, of all people, is distraught.

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (Matthew 26: 38 KJV)

He is in a state of despair.  He is asking God to give Him a break.

Lighten the load.

He doesn’t just ask once, but three times he goes to God in prayer to express his grief.

But in the end Jesus accepts that God is in control and moves forward to complete the task that God sent him to do.

Jesus submits to God’s will.

If Jesus can’t get away with ignoring God’s will, just exactly who do I think I am to ignore His will for my life?  Who am I to focus on my desires?  I needed to stop focusing on my wants and figure out what God wanted me to do.

And then do it.

You see, that’s what this Christian walk is about.  Being in step with the will of God.

Doesn’t mean that there won’t be trials and tribulations.  Oh no.  The hard times will still come.  You will be knocked down more times than you can count.  One step forward, three steps back.

But you will have peace in every situation when what you do is consistent with God’s will.

Whatever that may be.

Accepting that I am here to do as God commands has helped to streamline my list of goals and objectives.

I have replaced them all with this:

Thy will be done.

 

 

 

How to Let God Fight Your Battles – Part 4

The battle is almost over.

See my earlier posts about letting God fight your battles in Parts 1, 2 and 3 (here, here and here).

We left off in 2 Chronicles 20:17 after the Lord tells Judah not to be afraid because the battle was not theirs and that He would be with them.

We pick up in verse 18:

And Jehoshphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.  And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on high. (2 Chronicles 20: 18-19 KJV)

Worship and praise God.

Focus your efforts on worshipping and praising God when times get tough.  Don’t get so caught up worrying about the problem that you neglect to glorify God.  Fall on your knees and worship Him.

Jehoshaphat then addressed Judah:

…Believe in the Lord your God, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. (2 Chronicles 20:20 KJV)

Believe in God.

Put your trust in God.  Have unwavering faith that His word is true and that He will fight the battle for you.  This belief will sustain you and provide hope and peace as you go through the situation.  No matter how difficult the issue may be.

Now, God delivers the victory.

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. (2 Chronicles 20:22 KJV)

Did you catch that?

When they began to sing and to praise, THEN God moved against their enemies.

Worship comes first.

Judah focused on worshipping God, not on the battle in front of them!

As they were singing and praising, God set everything in motion for their enemies to be defeated.

I get this wrong a lot.  I channel all my efforts into obsessing about the problem and how it should be handled instead of focusing my efforts on one simple thing – worshipping God.

The focus should be on God in the midst of every battle and situation.

As the deacons used to sing in church, “I woke up this morning with my mind, stayed on Jesus.”

Keep your mind stayed on Jesus. (See here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gneY1uvH7HY)

When we do that, God will orchestrate the victory in such a way that we never could  have ourselves.

Like this:

For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.  And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. (2 Chronicles 20:23-24 KJV)

God used the enemies of Judah to destroy each other.  When Judah got to what they thought was the battlefield all the work had been done.  All of their enemies were dead.  They didn’t need to fight, just collect the spoils of the victory.

God will do this for us as well.

The battle plan is complete.  Let’s take it from the top:

  • Seek the Lord
  • Fast
  • Gather with like-minded folks who are also seeking God
  • Ask the Lord for help
  • Acknowledge who God is, His power and what He has done
  • Outline the problem
  • Ask God to handle the situation
  • Acknowledge that you have no power
  • Acknowledge that you don’t know what to do
  • Keep your eyes on God
  • Don’t be afraid
  • Listen
  • Stand still
  • Do what God tells you to do
  • Worship and praise God
  • Believe that God will handle the situation.

Be blessed in the name of Jesus.