A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

August 28, 2016

Acts 13

     As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
 "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to."

     This particular passage in the Bible has struck close to home.  It was pointed out to me by my very wise husband, who said, “Have you ever thought that we spend too much time ministering to people, rather than to God?”  If you are like me, your first thought was, But God asks us to attend to the needs of others; to love them and to share the message about the sacrifice for all mankind that His Son accomplished on the Cross.  Isn’t that what ministering is, and aren’t we called to do that in the Name of our Lord?
     Of course, the answer to this last question is, yes.  Leading and guiding and meeting the needs of others in love is necessary and part of ministering to people, which is God’s work.  But it is hard to ignore in our selected verse that the Apostles were ministering to the Lord, not to the people.  So why were they doing that, and what does it mean for us?
     It is a rather subtle, yet difficult concept to consider, so I hope I’m able to express my thoughts in a coherent manner.  The primary point I want to make is that there is a difference between ministering to people and ministering to God.  When we minister to people, it involves the efforts of our flesh – we may be ministering to the needs of fellow Christians, laboring to save sinners, or administering the affairs of our church.  We may be saying all the right things and be acting according to Scripture; doing all the right activities.  But there’s a crucial question that must be answered … are our efforts done with a mind toward meeting the needs of others, which is through our flesh? Or are we acting in the Spirit, and truly serving the Lord in our hearts?  Do you see the difference?
     Jeff Goins, with Adventures in Missions wrote, “To ‘minister to the Lord’ is to worship Him alone in all that you do. [It is putting Him first].  So, in essence, any ministry that is directed towards others without first being directed towards God is idolatry."  That's a pretty sobering statement!
     To truly understand what it means to "minister to God", we need to consider the role of the priests under the Old Covenant.  In the Old Testament, only the priests ministered "to God." The Israelites would bring the animals to the temple, and the priests would help them administer the sacrifice in a way that was pleasing to God.  The priest would enter the "Holy of Holies", where God would meet him and accept the blood as a pleasing sacrifice for the atonement of sins.
      In the New Testament, at the Cross, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for all of humanity. He was both the sacrifice [bringing His own blood] and the priest who presented the offering to God the Father, who accepted it and was eternally pleased. When we acknowledge Him as our Savior, we become heirs with Him and part of the "royal priesthood".  We are covered by the blood of his ultimate sacrifice, and we are able to enter the "holy of holies" personally, and present ourselves to God the Father.
     So Ministering to the Lord means that before we do any of our activities of ministering to others, we should present ourselves before Him, offering whatever our service might be to Him, first.  This is the first job of any servant of God; to put Him first, doing what pleases Him and honors Him as our primary objective.  That can include worshipping Him, praising Him, prayer, listening to Him ... or writing for Him.  When we put Him first before we act in our ministry to others, we can expect to hear from Him.  And, here, it is important to realize that this is where the difference between works of the flesh (ministering to others) and spiritual work (ministering to the Lord) is revealed.  Ministering to men often finds us exerting our own energy, running around, spending time to discuss and debate, negotiating, proposing, approving, and authorizing.  Ministering to the Lord requires waiting quietly and listening for what He will say to us.
      Because the Apostles ministered to the Lord [and fasted] they heard from the Holy Spirit, God's voice, and received the calling on the lives of Barnabas and Saul.  That can only happen when we minister in the spirit.  Ministering in the flesh serves ourselves and others.  Ministering in the Spirit serves God.
     I mentioned at the beginning of this post that this concept struck close to home.  I have to be honest in revealing that it is my utmost desire that this blog serve Him first.  But I often examine my motives to make sure that is the case.  I sometimes have to ask, "Lord, am I really ministering to You or to the work of this blog?  Lord, is my ministry to this audience or to You?"  Because it must be to Him first!  If it is, then I trust that He will speak to you through my writing.  I can tell you that I am aware when I am not ministering to Him which results in a struggle with my writing -- I'm sure you can tell it, too.
     So, I pray that I can follow the example of the Apostles and let go of the fleshly side of this work for the Lord.  I want to let go of all consciousness of who is reading it or how many, and I want it to be a spiritual work; a work that allows me to enter within the presence of my Lord, offering my efforts to Him as a pleasing act of worship and honor.  I want to write each post just to please Him!  And so... I wait ... and I listen.  

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