Many people think that Jesus preached love and acceptance. His messages focused on repentance. Repentance is not a comfortable message. It will cause us to face our flesh nature and sins. We try to design services that are ‘seeker friendly’ and this has resulted in us compromising the message of the Gospel. We must stop compromising the truth if we are going to reach the world. People are dying in sin. We have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation by God. This message requires us to confront people where they are. Church seems to have become a place to be entertained. A lot of services have the feel of a secular gathering instead of a time of worship. Reverence for the things of God is missing. Preachers are often treated like rock stars. They often have personal assistants that travel with them to tend to their every need. Ministers are given the best seating at conferences. I have even seen so called ministers sections arranged so that the ministers with the largest ministries are seated towards the front so that they have the best view. These sections are often reserved only for those who are “full time” ministers. Ministers are not even recognized if they have a smaller ministry that requires them to work in a secular profession to support their family.
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:16)
We must come to a place of complete submission. This may require us to sacrifice our goals and life plans. The goal of any ministry is to lift up the name of Jesus. Ministry is never to be viewed as a platform to make a name for ourselves.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. (Galatians 1:13-19)
I understand the desire to just run out and win the world. Discovering and pursuing the plan of God requires that we first give time to prayer and the Word. This is the time we prepare the ground of our heart. It is also a time when we are hidden from view. Paul was used by God to write nearly two-thirds of the New Testament. He grew up being taught by some of the best teachers in Judaism. Paul had theological training and was a leader in his religion. If anyone would have been prepared to run out and win the world, it would have been Paul. Even he needed three years of preparation in Arabia with his background and training. The Holy Spirit knows the condition of our hearts. He will prepare our hearts to receive a revelation of the plan of God as we make time to spend fellowshipping with Him in prayer. This revelation will not come though until our hearts have been prepared. People waste countless hours crying out to Him without first preparing their hearts. Preparation means we are spending time waiting in His presence and studying the Word of God. He will begin to show us the plan when we are ready to receive. God cannot show us the entire plan at once because we will not be able to receive it. He will reveal more to us as we mature in spiritual things and are able to receive it. Discovering and fulfilling the plan of God will always be a step by step process. There are no shortcuts in the realm of the spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide us and reveal more of the plan as we grow and are able to receive it. Impatience is one of the great barriers to our being able to discover and walk in the plan of God. Impatient people will not be able to wait for God’s timing and they will not be able to take the time to prepare their hearts to receive the plan.
We often miss God by seeking Him for guidance without first learning to crucify our flesh. Jesus is more interested in the condition of our heart than He is in our service. He did not go to the cross to gather an army of servants. Jesus was sent to open the door for mankind to be restored to fellowship with God. We can live our entire Christian life without once stepping into the plan of God and not affect His love for us! Our life will not have eternal fruit, but we will enter into heaven. As we continue on in our journey it is important for us to understand that God will always love us much more than He will love what we do for Him. It is easy to lose focus and think that the reason we want to walk in His plan is to gain His love. Our motivation is totally opposite. We press in to discover His plan because of our love for Him. The Old Covenant was based on works, but the New Covenant is based on grace. A lot of churches spend so much time talking about serving and getting involved and as a result many Christians have fallen into a works mindset. It is important for us to serve. If our service is from a works mindset it has no value to the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ love is not based on what we do for Him and our service must be motivated from the heart. It seems that this works mindset has robbed the joy of serving God from a lot of people. I have actually heard people express a fear that their standing before God will be affected if they are not busy serving in some capacity at their church. Our standing is based on Jesus alone and our works cannot affect that!
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