An older pastor with some cross cultural experience writes this brief email to others in leadership seeking to encourage them in practical ways. These subjects could generally apply to any person seeking to glorify God. If you think others would be helped by these monthly short articles then get them to write to me on Alan.Utting@mercyteams.net (Websitewww.firstfruitsministries.org.nz)
Our Lord is not interested in us making a great name for ourselves, even finding personal fulfilment and espousing great doctrines, but primarily in establishing His kingdom for His glory. Over the years I have nearly always thought that I was working for His glory, but surprisingly looking back I sometimes think my motivations were somewhat mixed and not always right. God still gives me a limp to enable me to be dependant upon Him for His glory. What is your limp?
Genesis 32:24-28 ‘So Jacob was left alone. A man struggled with him until morning. The man saw that he couldn’t win. So he touched the inside of Jacob’s hip. As Jacob struggled with the man, Jacob’s hip was twisted. Then the man said, “Let me go. It is morning.” But Jacob replied, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will not be Jacob anymore. Instead, it will be Israel. You have struggled with God and with men. And you have won.” ‘
1. Over the years I have met many amazing men and women of God who seem to be very fruitful in ministry. They seem very gifted and outwardly have it all together. However, as I have gotten to know them better or read their biographies I have discovered that they have had a great dependance on God for their survival. Often their circumstances have or are causing great hardship.
2. The apostle Paul highly educated, confident and having a great intellectual ability talks about how he found ministry challenging. E.g. ‘When I came to you, I was weak and afraid and trembling all over. I didn’t preach my message with clever and compelling words. As I preached, the Holy Spirit showed his power. That was so you would believe not because of human wisdom but because of God’s power.’ 1 Cor 2:3-5.
3. The Bible is full of people who limped (as it were). E.g. Moses stammered, Jacob was deceitful and fearful, king David had a problem with lust, Jeremiah considered himself too young, Hosea was married to a prostitute, Peter was too impulsive, James and John were full of self importance etc.
4. Occasionally God may bring a limp as in Jacob’s case, while at other times it is just part of living in a fallen world.
5. Limps have come to me in many forms e.g. through a mental blank causing public embarrassement, receiving what appears to be unfair severe criticism, working with a person with ungodly behaviour and an occasional back disorder, just to name a few. The Lord through these experiences has reminded me that ministry is not about me gaining a godly reputation but again it’s about Him and His glory! Remember however that sometimes there are seeds of truth that come with criticism and difficult circumstances and I need to learn from that.
6. All people in ministry experience hurts. Avoid becoming cynical and quickly extend forgiveness.
7. ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up’ James 4:10. If you don’t humble yourself, then God may but His way can be more painful.
8. “Only to the degree that all our own power is dismantled will God be able to give the fruits of the Spirit and build up his kingdom through us, in us, and among us. There is no other way. If a little power of our own were to rise up among us, the Spirit and authority of God would retreat in the same moment and to the corresponding degree. In my estimation that is the single most important insight with regard to the kingdom of God.”Eberhard Arnold *
9. What limps are you experiencing? God’s promise is “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness……… When I am weak, I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9,10.
Plough Weekly 27/7/18 www.plough.com*