Monday, December 29, 2014

Stop Following Me

Does your ministry glorify Jesus or yourself?

John 3:22-30  Then Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.

23  At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism.  24  (This was before John was thrown into prison.)

25  A debate broke out between John's disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing.  26  So John's disciples came to him and said, "Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the One you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to Him instead of coming to us."

27  John replied, "No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.  28  You yourselves know how plainly I told you, 'I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for Him.'  29  It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at His success.

30  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

Have you ever met a follower of John the Baptist? Eventually his following disappeared but when he first told them that they shouldn't settle for less and that the ministry of the Messiah was far greater than his many of them stayed with him. Instead of leaving many of his followers were eager to promote and even protect his ministry.

It would have been easy for John to adopt the same attitude as his followers and ignore the Messiah just like they were doing. He could have become prideful that the Holy Spirit was with him before he was born. The crowds were coming from all over to hear him preach, there aren't very many preachers that get to enjoy that, even Jesus testified how great that John the Baptist was. (Luke 1:15-17, 76, Matthew 3:5-6, 11:11)

Competition in ministry is wrong but it isn't anything new. On one occasion when the Holy Spirit came on two young men, Joshua, who was Moses’ helper, said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:28-29)

A similar thing happened when the apostle John saw someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name and tried to prevent him, because he wasn't a part of their group (Mark 9:39). Paul had to deal with the idea of competition in ministry. Some people tried to promote the superiority of one ministry over another but Paul didn't let their opinion of his work go to his head.
1 Corinthians 3:5  After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God's servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.
The Bible makes it clear that a Christ follower is supposed to be a minister but they are also supposed to be a servant. We do not like the concept of being a servant but that is the life that we are supposed to live. A servant is the most submissive lifestyle that we can understand, they don't have rights that are owed to them, they can be told what to do and how to do it at any time.

What servant has a right to claim that their ministry is better than another? If God is doing a greater work somewhere else is he calling you to terminate your current ministry and join him in that new work?
I Am God's Servant
Ephesians 3:7  By God's grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving Him by spreading this Good News.
God gives me a work to do and he gives me the power to do it. I don't have anything apart from God, as his servant I have been given a job to do and I receive the power to do that job through him. Our pride gets in the way and we forget that we received a commission from God, he gives me the power to do it, and he can easily tell me to stop and serve somewhere else.

Success in ministry comes from God and if he isn't working where you are working then maybe it is time to look at where he is working and go join him there. I have to wonder how many ministries are still operating long after God has asked them to stop. We try to direct God and keep him in line with our plans but sometimes God is doing a new work and we need to let go of what he was using yesterday.

Humility comes from knowing who God is and keeping our focus on him. The clearer our vision of His majesty and greatness and power and glory, the more we will be humbled in His presence and obey his will for our lives.

Thank you Lord for allowing me to serve you, I pray that everything that I do exalts you and encourages others to do the same. I want to serve where you want me to serve. (1 Timothy 1:12)