Paul tells us that our first step in the journey of serving God is to present our bodies as living sacrifices. This is also the first step we will take to enter into our journey of discovering the plan of God. Many people try and skip this step. The presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices will require our willingness to let our flesh nature die. Presenting our bodies requires the presentation of our self-nature on the altar of His holy presence.
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (Acts 1:4)
Jesus’ final words to His disciples before ascending to His Father are provided in Acts chapter one. They had traveled with Him for three to three and a half years. They had heard every sermon and seen every miracle but were not ready to launch out into ministry. Jesus told them to “wait” for “the promise of the Father”. This was the Holy Spirit. He had breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22) but now was telling them to wait for Him. This was the Comforter He had promised to send (John 14:16). When we become Christians, we receive Him but then there is another experience where He anoints us. This is what Jesus was telling them to wait for. They had received Him when Jesus breathed on them but now would wait for His anointing. We have talked about the need for patience to enter into the plan of God. It is not easy to wait. Our flesh will want to go. Paul was in Arabia for three years and Jesus in the desert for forty days. The disciples waited one hundred and twenty days. How long are we willing to wait? The exact amount of time required will differ for each of us. Regardless of the amount of time we wait, the time hidden away with Him is where we are presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. It is not easy to be hidden away out of site. Our flesh will fight us every inch of the way because it does not want to give way to the spirit. If we will press through our flesh will die and God will be able to trust us with His anointing.
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)
There is a harvest of souls that is ready to be harvested. Jesus told us that there is a shortage of harvesters. The time of preparation is never easy. It is a time where our flesh is being put to death. If we will press through and not rush our preparation time, He will be able to anoint us and send us into the field. The “labourers are few” in number in large part because so few are willing to wait as Jesus instructed His disciples.
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25)
Many of the people who believed in Jesus did so because of the miracles that they saw. Their faith was based on what they were seeing and experiencing. This is a total opposite of Paul’s encouragement to “look not at the things which are seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We cannot find fault though because many of us would have done the same. Today we see people flocking to services where the power of God is moving. In one sense it seems that if we want to draw a crowd it would only take advertising that miracles were occurring. Unfortunately, there have been so many that have abused the things of God today resulting in a lot of people dropping out of church. Jesus’ ministry was a novelty in His day. Miracles were something documented in Scripture but not seen.
I think that it is important for us to note John’s statement that “Jesus did not commit himself unto them” (John 2:24). He knew their hearts. They were not spiritually in a position to become witnesses of Him. Think about the contrast with our services today. The power of God falls causing people to gather and witness the miracles. Most preachers would begin to hand out flyers and tracts for people to distribute. There may be a one to training session on what to say. In most cases though new converts are sent out with little to no discipleship. I recently spoke with a young woman who is relatively new Christian. Her church has no discipleship outside of the weekly church services. They encourage people to join service teams, so she got involved. There is a couple in church that has a ministry focused on some really rough areas of town. This young woman met the couple and was invited to ‘serve’ in their ministry. She readily agreed and was taken to a strip club her first night out. The goal was to reach the strippers. This young woman was never discipled. She did not have a solid grounding in the Word of God. When I spoke with her she told me that she was experiencing terrible nightmares each night she had gone to minister. She had been taken into a spiritually dark environment and exposed to some seriously demonic activity without a solid grasp on her authority in Christ. I am not sure how her story will continue to unfold but for now it is not looking good. God may have called her to this ministry, but He would not have sent her without first preparing her. The ministers that she connected with should have taken the time to disciple her but did not. This is an unfortunate situation. It is unfortunately indicative of how people are sent out today. John said that Jesus did not need anyone in the crowd to testify “for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25). He knew their hearts. He knew that they were not ready to be sent out.We have discussed the need for a time of preparation. The self-nature has a desire to be seen. It does not want to be hidden away with God because that is where it will die. John the Baptist told his disciples that “He must increase, but I must increase” (John 3:30). This is the goal of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. In the secret place of preparation, we crucify our flesh with a goal of His presence increasing in our lives. We can mobilize hundreds of people from local churches to go out and hand out tracks but will probably struggle to find on person in the crowd who has paid the price to be anointed. Church history is filled with accounts of men and women who walked in the power of God. Smith Wigglesworth, Charles Finney, and Kathryn Kuhlman all walked in the power of God. Each of their lives tells a story of sacrifice that opened the door to them being able to walk in the anointing. There is a price that must be paid to discover and walk in the plan of God for our lives. The cost will be different for each of us. A study of Church history reveals that those who have paid the price seem to be the exception rather than the rule. The majority of Christians seem to be unwilling to make sacrifices to pursue the things of God. I believe that Jesus did not commit Himself to the people because He knew they could not be trusted with the anointing. Can He trust us? His disciples spent three to three and a half years with Him but were still told to wait before launching out into ministry. There is not a shortage of people to serve today. There is a shortage of labourers though who can be trusted with the anointing. Without the anointing we will have to rely on our natural abilities. Many services today rely on natural tactics that make them hard to differentiate from a gathering of unsaved people. The goal is to make people comfortable so that we can draw crowds. If we gather a crowd without the anointing, we will accomplish nothing of eternal value. Kathryn Kuhlman spoke of cost she paid for the anointing. This required her to make a choice to walk away from everything she valued in life. She became a living sacrifice. It only takes one person to make that choice. Very few do though because of the cost required. Everything must be placed on the altar to be consumed in His presence. All ministry should flow out of the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit. Most of what we call ministry today is not anointed. There must be time spent hidden away with the Holy Spirit and with the Word of God.
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