Thursday, September 13, 2012

True Ministry

              This morning my heart is breaking for a very dear friend of mine who has suffered a great loss. As I have been praying for her, and asking the Lord Jesus to comfort her and her family in this great hour of sorrow, the Lord God opened my eyes to true ministry. The Bible has many things to say about ministry. The first mention of the word “minister” is in Exodus 28:1. God tells Moses to have Aaron and his sons set aside to minister to Him as priests. In the New Testament, it is first mentioned in Matthew 25:44. So what exactly does it mean to “minister”?
                The Bible has much to say about ministering. 1 Peter 4:10 states, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” To minister means to be a servant, to attend to the needs of others, attend to anything that may serve another’s interests. As I think about this word minister, I think of my dear friend and sister in the Lord.
                When I spoke to her this morning, I offered my time, my prayers, my love- whatever she needed at whatever time she needed it. As I drove away, the Lord spoke to me and said, “This is ministry.” Being in ministry doesn’t necessarily mean that we are in a position in our church with a title attached. The most precious ministry is the service we give to one another, in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.
                Jesus Himself got on His hands and knees, and washed the feet of His disciples. He did this to minister to them and to give us an example of what pure ministry looks like. Ministry to one another is what we are called to do. We all have busy lives; our days are filled with numerous projects, obligations, responsibilities, not always leaving us a whole lot of time to minister to anyone. Yet, we are called to be ministers; we are called to be good stewards of the grace of God.
                1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it with the ability that God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Peter tells us that when we minister that we are to do it with the ability that God supplies us. For some of us that could mean providing meals for those that are sick, or going through grief and suffering. It could be calling that person on the phone to pray with them, to love them as Christ loved us. It could be simply stopping by the house to help them do yard work, clean their home, any number of things to help carry the burden for them.
                Ministry does not have to be grand and always out in the open. It does not have to have a name, or a title; it only has to be done in the same Spirit that was in Christ Jesus, which was love. Jesus, no matter where He was at, ministered to all who came to Him. Never once did you hear Jesus say, “I just don’t have the time right now to help you, can I call you when I get some free time?” No, He stopped what He was doing, and He ministered to the needs of the people. He would go days without sleep and without food to serve the needs of His people. Why are we not willing to do the same? Have we not been called to minister to one another, to love as Christ loves, to show grace and mercy as God has shown grace and mercy?
                The Lord has shown me today that true ministry is the laying down of our own selves to lift up, encourage, and to serve those who are in need, who are hurting. It is being open and ready at all times to do the work that the Lord God has so clearly shown us needs to be done. The ministry that we have all been called to is the same ministry that Jesus came to demonstrate. Ministry is meant for people, all people, whatever the need, whatever the time.
                Galatians 6:2 says we are to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.” Christ came to serve, He calls us to serve. We are to bear one another’s burdens. We are to take their needs upon ourselves, lay down our wants and desires and plans, and walk alongside them so that the trial, the pain, the sorrow that they are experiencing can be filled with comfort, peace and love from God our Father in heaven. There are always ways to minister, there are always people who are hurting, we just have to be open to what the Lord is asking of us, step out of our day and pour into them the same grace and love that we have been given.
There was a time in my life when I was not able to give of my time as freely as I am now. My children were younger, still in school, and the needs of my family were great. Now, as I am older and my children are grown, the ability to minister to others whenever the need arises has become easier. The ministries that the Lord has me in at church are good, and I love them. I am so grateful and full of thanksgiving towards Him for allowing me to serve Him in these areas. Yet, I saw something more valuable than all these ministries combined today, I saw the sweetness of intimacy that we can have with one another through the simple ministry of love.
                We all want to help and to serve and to do great things for the Lord. (At least, I know I do) But the greatest gift that we can give anyone is through the ministry of love that we have for one another. If you are wondering what the Lord wants you to do, if you have praying for a way to be a part of a ministry, take a moment and look around you. There are needs within the church, within your family, within your neighborhood that need to be met. To be in ministry means that you are sharing the love, the time, the gifts that God has given you with those who are in need.
                We are all ministers to God and we are all called to be ministers to one another. Being able to lay down my desires and my plans for the day to minister to someone else has been the greatest and most fulfilling ministry I have ever been a part of. Today, as I ponder on what true ministry is, I am overwhelmed at the thought that something as simple as providing a meal to someone who is hurting brings such glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. He laid down His life for us, He took time to minister to us; He asks that we do the same.
                Father God, I pray that we would see ministry as more than a place in church, but that we would see it as an opportunity to serve You, while we serve those who are in need. May our hearts be filled with sweet and intimate fellowship as we show forth Your love, Your ministry to others. You came to serve, and not to be served, giving us the model for our lives. You laid down Your time, Your life, Your love for us, may we also take up that same cross and follow Your example. May our ministry be sweet and pleasing to You, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.