Protecting Our Walks, Our Ministries, And Our Churches

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” – Luke 10: 20 (NLT)

    Serving in ministry is crucial for the advancement of the kingdom of God but it also carries with it some inherent dangers we need to be wary of in our walk. Remember the devil will use anything we give him against us if we allow it. The key verse today comes from an interesting story in the tenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel account. Jesus sends out the 72 disciples ahead of Him. The disciples return and are quite joyful at the success they found:

    When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” – Luke 10: 17 (NLT)

    The work the 72 went out to do can essentially be called the first “ministry” work for Jesus. When they returned we see above they were joyful at the results of their ministry efforts. Within this one response God is showing us some of the concerns we need to have when it comes to our work for the Lord. The first thing I see is that ministry can end up being a great source of pride. The disciples seemed greatly enthusiastic upon their return. Now, there is nothing wrong with enthusiasm and in fact, we should be enthusiastic in our work for God. Why do I conclude that this enthusiasm was bordering on being prideful? Based upon the response of Jesus in the key verse! This is a real danger in our ministry efforts for the Lord because we hide our pride behind the name of Jesus. It is because we are working for the Lord that it is harder to see our glaring pride. We can see this more easily in a talent based ministry such as the choir. The enemy often attacks a church through the choir because of the relative size of the ministry and because of the ego that is usually involved. So often I have seen people confuse being gifted with being called. Even beyond that – confusing being called with submission to authority. If we have been blessed with a gift it is because God has given it. If God then calls us based upon that gifting, it still is only for His glory. We fail to bring glory to God by being disobedient to the authorities placed over us.

    Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. – Colossians 3: 23 (NLT)

    Yet how many times do we see people working to be seen by man instead of for the glory of God? How often do we see pride infect a ministry, a calling, or a gifting? Too often beloved. The second thing I see is that successes in ministry can sometimes drive us beyond the territory we were assigned to. When we read the portion in this chapter where Jesus commands them, nowhere does He mention to them commanding demons. He says they need to preach the Kingdom of God is at hand and to heal the sick. Yet upon their return they are in fact boasting in the fact that demons were obeying them when they used the name of Jesus. We see this far too often in ministries and churches. Things may start out correctly, following the call and guidance of God. But then comes the success and the next success. Then comes the accolades. We can start to believe our own press clippings. Suddenly we find ourselves working outside of what God has asked us to do, making assumptions on behalf of God and being outright disobedient. The first king of Israel was named Saul. He started out very humble. He followed God and the people liked him. He led Israel to military victories. But somewhere along the road he began to think it was about him and not about God. The very same thing that can happen in ministries and churches. Saul is sent to destroy the Amalekites but he does not follow the instructions of God. He believes he has in his heart but he clearly did not. The Prophet Samuel looks for him:

    Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.” – 1Samuel 15: 12 (NLT)

    Many churches have become monuments to men masquerading as sanctuaries of God. Many ministries have become monuments to their leaders instead of enterprises for the Lord. There is a real danger of interjecting self over God and taking more territory than God has commanded us to. The result of which leads us to the last concern for us to examine today.

    When we see pride rise up in ourselves and that leads us to going beyond what God intends for us, the end result will be that we lose sight of why we do what we do. The key verse is basically Jesus reminding the 72 that they are focusing on the wrong thing. They are rejoicing about the wrong thing. The only thing that truly matters is our relationship with Jesus Christ. The demons obey you? Don’t be joyful at that! Notice – they only obeyed them because of the name of Jesus anyway! It is always all about Jesus! Yet when the 72 returned Jesus heard in their response that they started to think it was about them. The demons obeyed “us.” No they didn’t! They feared the name of the Son of God, not Bob the disciple. Even the name of Jesus is not enough without a proper relationship. In the Book of Acts we see the seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest. They were running around casting out demons in the “name of Jesus who Paul preaches.” One day they picked on the wrong demon:

    But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. – Acts 19: 15-16 (NLT)

    There is no power without the relationship with Christ. Jesus in our key verses here is reminding His disciples that they are starting to focus on the wrong thing. Within this is the secret to ensuring our walk, ministry and even our churches always stay on the narrow path – keep our eyes on Jesus. I know it sounds trite but recognize today I am speaking about everything that we do must be done for the glory of God alone because He has plucked us out of darkness and placed us in His marvelous light. Once we see that anything we are doing is for our own glory, we need to stop. I am not talking about the lip service paid to the name of Jesus within modern churches today but a genuine heart-led desire to glorify the only true living God.

    Rev. Anthony

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