Topical - Philosophy of Ministry (Part 6)

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Welcome to this study in the class for Philosophy of Ministry.  In this week, Pastor Ronnie Mitchell will be speaking on the subject of The Character of the Minister.  And we know that the Lord’s desire that his servants would have a Godly character.  So Pastor Ronnie goes back to the Bible and gets some Godly examples that we can look to for our own lives. 

Now, we look at the live of Ezra, Chapter 9 and starting off here this evening looking at a deep concern for God’s law, a deep concern for their well being.  If you are going to minister in any capacity I think that is what the Lord would want.  Peter says that the Elders should not Lord over the flock but serve them and be an example because they realize that the chief shepherd is the one that owns the flock and we are just His, the one’s that He’s placed in charge for a time but they ultimately belong to him, Acts Chapter 20 the flock which He purchased with His own blood.  So they belong to the Lord and I believe what the Lord desires to do is to gather a group of people, whether that is in a small context, in a Sunday School class with kids or adults or Pastor a church, God would want you to have the same love that Christ has for His flock and to treat them in that way.  And although this is a kind of a negative context in Ezra Chapter 9, that is not what I’m only focusing on is when people get into trouble but just the concern that He has for the flock is demonstrated here.  It says that when these things were done the leaders came to me saying, the people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with the respect to the abomination of the Canaanites the Hittites the Terizites the Jezubites, the Ammonites the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites.  For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, the holy seed in intermingled with the peoples of those lands.  And that was one of the purpose for marriage and the Book of Malachi was to raise up Godly seed and Godly offspring and so God said you are not to be unequally yoked as we call it today.  And they were doing that.  In deed the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass, so when I heard this thing I just said, no big deal, let’s just move on . . (chuckle . . no) He say’s I tore my garments and my robe and plucked out some of the hair on my head and beard and sat down astonished.  Now , again, I’m going to look at this, it’s not only because something that was wrong but obviously it shows you the deep concern that he has for the people.  They are going in the wrong direction and it’s not a reflection on him, it’s a refection on the people, it’s a reflection on the Lord and he knows that consequences if these people continue in that direction and it just astonishes him.  And you know, I’m not telling you to go home and rip your clothes and pluck your hair out and you know sit down like that but it is a great concern that he has.  I think that’s what the Lord would desires for us in ministering the people that we would love the sheep that we care for.  In the Bible Jesus is our example, the Shepherd lays His life down for the flock and Jesus obviously did that and He would call us to do the same thing, through sacrifice, to do without, whatever it is, to see that God’s children are taken care of.  Otherwise, it’s a routine that you are going through, there is no real love, no real passion and when the times get difficult you may want to flee as the Bible says that’s the hireling who leaves the flock in danger where the true shepherd will fight off the wolves or whatever it is that is taking place.  And it starts with just that deep love, that s when you really have to find out, you know, what is it that God has called me to do?  Because I believe He will give you a deep love and concern for the people that you are ministering to and so not just looking at the function of your ministry but looking at your heart.  And only God could give you that type of love.  And you know, you will be tested, but the Lord gives you that staying power of love just to continue to want the best and to continue to be patient and loving and kind towards the people the Lord would give to you.  Look over at Nehemiah, there are lots of things to be said about the life of Nehemiah Chapter 5 - And I put Matthew 6:33 which speaks about seeking first the Kingdom of God and that is where our hearts need to be.  And Nehemiah the one concern that he had was getting this wall rebuilt and he had a pretty nice position coming from the government position that he had plus coming into the leadership position there is Israel, in vs. 14 of Chapter 5 - it says, moreover from the time I was appointed to be their governor in the Land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty second year of King Artistries, 12 years neither I nor my brothers ate the governors provisions.  But the former governors who had been before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver, yes even their servants bore rule over the people but I did not do so because of fear of God.  And so he did not follow the patterns of the other governors who took the privileges that the governor was given but he feared God, he realized that people were burdened as it was.  And he was concerned again, he was concerned for the flock not for his own well being, and that is what it is often going to take in your life to serve God’s people is sacrifice on your own.  And you know, I know that in this church there are people who are just doing things all the time that no one knows about other than the Lord.  It’s sacrifices that they make.  Personal sacrifices, whether it’s from their own financial things that they would bring into the ministry, never asking to be reimbursed or giving things out or their time or effort or energy and labor and all that goes on because their heart is for the Kingdom of God.  And you see that here in Nehemiah, although he had the rights and it was accessible to him, he wanted to set an example.  It says, in deed I also continued the work on this wall, we did not buy any land all my servants were gathered there for the work.  So the focus was on getting this wall built, the Kingdom of God being furthered.  Moreover, there were at my table over 150 Jews and Rulers besides those who came to us from the Nations around us.  So, he also provided for others.  So, instead of taking he gave back.  Now, that which was provided for me daily was one ox, six choice sheep, also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine, yet in spite of this I did not demand the governors provisions because the bondage was heavy on this people.  Remembering my God for my good according to all that I have done for this people.  So, you say, well look at all that food he had in vs. 18, well it wasn’t coming from the people, there were provisions that were given to him and he dispersed it with all these people that came and ate at his table, something that he didn’t have to do.  But again, he identified himself with the people, he says their bondage is heavy and we are not going to make it worse and then he just says, Lord you remember.  There are a lot of sacrifices that you will make.  But, if your heart is in the right place you won’t consider it to be a sacrifice.  I hate when people make use of that term, and I think they do not quite understand.  If you think it’s a BIG giant sacrifice that you are making, you know for the ministry then something is wrong.  I like that in the Old Testament where God says “Quit saying that phrase, a burden of the Lord,” you know, the Burden of the Lord, the Burden of the Lord, you know, it’s not a burden.  I mean, if God’s called you to do it, it’s no BIG burden, and it’s no sacrifice, you are willing to lay your life down, let alone food or finances or whatever it is, when God puts that call upon your heart.  Again, seeking first the Kingdom of God, then you pray, Lord, remember me.  You know, you’ve seen this good that I’ve done.  And you know when I first started pasturing here, we definitely had to walk by faith because what happened was the pastor that I took over, passed away from cancer and he by God’s grace bought a life insurance policy like the week before he went to the doctor to find out about his sickness, made the first $50.00 payment or $30.00 whatever it was and it was right after that week he got sick and went to the doctor.  Now, the Life Insurance Company said, Hey there is something fishy here and they wouldn’t pay his widow the money.  So the church could not afford to bring me on and pay, well basically they had this board meeting, like what are we going to do to support the pastor’s wife, and so basically all their money went to that to help sponsor here which meant I was going to school and working full time and also pasturing full time.  That’s just the way my life has been, I’ve always just been real busy, real active and just laboring up until about 2 years ago, I worked a side job along with pasturing the church and I just didn’t want to be a burden or have to come to the board and say I need more money or I need this or that, I wanted God to put it in their hearts to want to provide for me, in a way that I wouldn’t have to ask, I mean you think about it, do you want to go to somebody and say, can I have a raise, I need more money and you’re a pastor of a church?  So, you just kind of do what you need to do.  There are a lot of times that you know, financially our church went up and down and I knew when there were finances available to have an increase and I knew when there wasn’t.  And so I never saw it as a sacrifice or some great big burden, I just did what I had to do.  And now, we’re at a point where praise the Lord but that’s not even a concern and the Lord just keeps blessing my life in so many different ways and so many little things.  And I think the Lord remembers those things that you have done unto the Lord and He makes up for it.  And let me just give you an example tonight when I got here, some guy gave me an envelope and said, here these are for you.  I didn’t know what was in it, and so I opened it up when I got here and two tickets to the Phantom of the Opera, my wife loves that, just a gift, a token.  Those are expensive things to you know, a special night out.  So, it’s just like the Lord gives you these things on the side and provides for you and He more than makes up for anything that you would ever think you sacrificed for God.  And I know when you get to heaven, He is going to reward you on top of that, the Lord wants to give.  The Lord loves to bless his kids.  And so, like Nehemiah he saw the burden, he didn’t want to be a burden, he didn’t want to increase the burden to anybody so he took the burden.  And that’s what a ministry does.  If you are truly called of God for the ministry.  Just like the Father of his kids.  They need something, you go out and you provide for, you do whatever you have to do, you work a little overtime or whatever it is, you’ll chop a tree down somewhere or mow someone’s lawn, you do what you have to do to provide those things, and you don’t say, you have to sacrifice, it’s just you love and out of love you’re willing to give.  And in the process, the beauty of it is that you are blessed because Jesus said it’s more blessed to give than to receive.  You feel like, hey I’m somewhat giving back unto the Lord, all He has done for me at the cross.  And that is where the heart needs to be.  So if you see it as a burden or a sacrifice then you really need to go before the Lord and ask Him to do some work there in your heart.  It should be Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, and the rest you let Him take care of it and He’ll take care of you.  Let’s go over to Timothy, we’ll spend some time in 2nd Timothy this is where the bulk of our study will be tonight.  2nd Timothy Chapter 2, this is a passage that I think you just need to meditate on, you don’t really need a Greek analysis of the passage and this verb and this form, you just need to read it over and over and over again.  You need to meditate on this portion in the Word of God.  I find myself going back to this over and over and over again for added strength and insight and wisdom, just keeping me on the straight and narrow.  Because Paul does say, in vs. 7 - consider what I say and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.  So there he is asked to stop and consider these things, and so often we just read right through it on our own.  But he says consider and the Lord will give you understanding.  And I have found that this portion of Scripture, almost like any other is one that you do need to stop and consider and God will speak to your heart.  As long as I have been studying the Bible and teaching and been in ministry these truths come back to me over and over again, for principles for your life.  It’s one of those you just contemplate, yet it’s not meant to be dissected like the Book of Romans you are working through and its all doctrinal and each has part has its point, God wants you to speak to you from this portion of the Word.  And in vs. 1, He says you therefore my son be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  Be strengthened by the grace of God.  And that’s where it starts in real life that we don’t have strength, we need strength and that comes from God.  Ministry is going to take the power of God to endure the things that you go through to give you the stamina, to give you the freverentcy, the continued fire, the continued zeal to study.  I know for myself, I love to study.  I could study for hours on end, yea my neck gets a little kinked and I have to stretch a little, but that is about it.  I find I do not have enough time to study.  So, it’s not like, Oh, I have to study the Bible and give a study, No, it’s like, I just want to dig in and get into it.  And I know that is the grace of God’s strength in my heart to do that.  Because there are other people, you know that they’re ministry is prayer and they just love to pray and it’s like God just gives them a grace to pray and they are prayer warriors, and I just love to pray with people like that because it’s like when they pray they touch the Lord and it’s like, ah, I wish I could pray that way, but you know God has given them the grace to have that ministry.  Others may be for the kids, others may be for junior and high school or evangelism or outreach, street witnessing, it’s how is God going to strengthen you?  What area is He going to grace you so that you could do the work of God?  And this is where we have to be careful, see I can’t place on you what God’s expectations of my life are.  I just have to be obedient to His call and He is going to give me the grace to do that.  Because here is what happens in the church, people start getting involved and all of a sudden they start looking around and say gosh, why isn’t this person doing this and this person doing that, then they start getting a little upset, maybe even a little prideful and the enemy is right there to work that in peoples hearts.  What they do not realize is that God has given them the grace to step out and to do that work and He’s given them the heart.  Whatever is good, the perfect gift is from above, right?  It comes down from above, and what do we have that we have not received, so if you are called to the ministry and someone else isn’t, don’t condemn them, just realize God’s graced you to do that.  And the only reason why you are continuing on in that ministry is God continues to give you the grace to do that.  And if He withheld His grace then you wouldn’t be able to continue on, you’d burn out.  That’s why He says be strengthened here by the grace of God.  I’d like to sometime, especially in the area of evangelism some people will get kind of prideful that way like they are the only people on fire in the church and they are the only ones going out and evangelizing, well it’s because God has given them the heart to do that.  Some people you just mention it in the bulletin and they’re heart starts pounding, Ah, I can’t do that, they are afraid.  It’s just that they are not called to do that, like other people are.  We are all called to be a witness for sure.  But not everyone is called to go out in the street and to pass out tracks, pass out flyers, carry a BIG sign that reads REPENT!  ---- The World is Coming to an End!  It takes a lot of grace.  So, it starts with being graced by God.  God wants to give you the grace to continue to go on and then when you realize at the end of the week you are still there and you still have a desire to do the work of the Kingdom of God, you have to say Lord I thank you that you touched my heart this week and you are continuing me on.  Otherwise, you know pride can get in there and a judgmental spirit and you don’t want that, that is death.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses commit these to faithful men who will also be able to teach others and that’s the discipleship program, the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry.  Now, I know that there are a lot of groups that just kind of take this as you know, small group discipleship, and I say, yea there is that also there, but also I strongly believe as I have shared over and over one of the greatest ways for you to be discipled in the ministry is to be there when the pastor is teaching.  Because you are hearing from him, this philosophy of ministry, what is important to him and something about listening to a man over and over again without necessarily writing it down, somehow you start taking on some of the same interests and same concerns.  Things that are a burden to him all of a sudden start becoming a concern to you.  And I’ve noticed that and that is why I am very careful who I will listen to over and over again.  There are some people I will enjoy listening to ONCE in a while.  But I say, I don’t’ want to be like that person, so I don’t want to think like that person so, I don’t want to be molded in that way.  And so, that is why I am always listening to tapes by Pastor Chuck, because I will use the example although he is not going to take me into his office and disciple me, I am going to listen to his tapes, I am going to learn what he believes on passages, what his philosophy is about just about everything.  And then that is passed on through the means of the teaching of the Word of God.  For example, you want to know what views an individual holds on the church, the ministry, or what the church should be doing, it should be there as they are teaching though the Book of Acts.  You are going to learn what the church is all about, and how ministry should be conducted, you will learn about the Holy Spirit, and then you know, you just keep on going through, and somehow it just kind of molds you with the same mindset.  And you have to be of the same mindset if you are going to start working with someone in the ministry.  And I know for myself, I don’t really have the time to sit down with someone and say, hey these things are important to me, I could say that, but I’m assuming they know that because they have been with me through the study of the Bible and they are going to take on the same importance.  And I think that people just underestimate that.  I mean that is a priority if you are going to be assisting in the ministry or if you have assistants you want them to be with you as you are in the Word of God.  I think that is the best place to do this, of committing these things and then you know, obviously we have a school here and that is another form to do that.  You know, I meet with people, that is another form to do that but I think the greatest way is to just go through the Bible with them.  vs. 3 - you therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  So there is that enduring like a soldier.  It’s kind of interesting that he equates a ministry like being a soldier that is in the mist of battle.  Paul definitely had his eyes open, this is near the end of his life and he’s trying to encourage Timothy who seems to be at times of a timid spirit.  He had to tell him, Hey, don’t be ashamed of me in my chains.  See, God has not given us a Spirit of Fear, but of Love, Power and of a Sound Mind.  He even said, stir up that gift that was given to you, so really Timothy maybe it was because of the ministry, maybe because of the opposition against Paul was starting to you know not be really aggressive in what God had called him to do, that’s why he’s going to tell him so much in the Word of God, preach the Word of God in season and out of season.  So as you read through these two letters, you see a young man that has a love for the apostle Paul, it’s a father son relationship but through the heartaches and the difficulties and then through Paul being there in prison and it seem to be the end of his life, Timothy seems to be pulling back a little bit and there were false teachers that were coming and he had to tell them, how do you deal with these guys and so he was not enduring the ministry like a soldier.  He was becoming passive and here Paul tells him, you need to be like a soldier that will endure hardship.  vs. 4 - no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life.  And that is pretty obvious said, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier and you need to be available and ready for what the Lord has called you to do.  I like when the Lord called Matthew and said follow me, and he left his business.  You can’t try and be called of God and then also try and develop your own life.  Now, as a Christian, obviously we are all called to Seek First the Kingdom of God but in ministry even more so in a unique sense.  You can’t have the best of both worlds.  Not if you are called.  I think the Lord gave me a privilege kind of through something that was a bad experience, it was so long ago I don’t even know if I was pasturing at the time or if I was still going to school, Biola, it’s just kind of fuzzy in my head, but I remember the experience.  A guy called me up and said, Hey, I want to show you my office.  And so he picked me up, I got in the car and there were some other people in the car, this was a guy from the past that I knew and I thought this is strange.  And we got to his office and the office was packed with people and they were recruiting people to sell a product and so I was pretty grieved.  You know, just at that, I felt like you know just be honest with me so I could have said no from the beginning, I would have liked to had seen this person but I don’t want to be a salesman and I talked with three of the main guys, and all of them had a calling to the ministry.  And they said well our plan is to sell this product and make so much money that way, we don’t have to be hired by a church and financially we will be able to do this and they had all these dreams.  And the Lord showed me…. it’s like He gave me eyes to see that this is foolish.  To Seek First the Kingdom of God and don’t get entangled in these other things, let God be your provider, you know and to put Him first and don’t’ get entangled in these other things and you know there is always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that someone is looking for and it was just it so grieved my heart that these guys were selling this product and still out preaching the gospel and they had a gift to do.  One guy was a pastor and he stopped being a pastor and now he’s doing this and it just sickened my heart.  And I said “Lord, may that not ever be true that my heart could get to the point that I could justify that.”  Because all I could see right now in my life is that I am called of God and I am not going to let ANYTHING get in the way of that.  Whatever it is Lord, and basically, whatever decision that I made was based on will this be easier for me to be in the ministry or will it slow it down?  That’s where I lived, what ever job I took, every decision.  Anything that I bought, and I shared with you before that what the Lord showed me many years ago when I was in San Diego.  He showed me and my wife Lisa that if He called us that we could move the next day.  That means don’t own anything at that point, don’t have any bills that you have to go fix, no credit cards, don’t buy a car unless you can pay for it straight up but basically the Lord said, I own your life and I want to direct you, and I want to be able to say, Now go and you go.  And the only thing that I legally had to do was give my landlord thirty-day notice.  Something that is just being a responsible person.  And I figured the Lord understood that but basically that is what happened.  I prayed about a decision and just basically the next day it was like this is what were going to do and lived out the rest of the month at the place and moved up to this area.  And I had an urgency upon my heart and then all this opened up at being at Calvary La Mirada.  But it would not have been possible if I had all these attachments that I had to work out and fix.  I had a little business that I started up as a gardener and I had all these houses that I did, I just gave it to a friend of mine and he took it over and I gave him all the tools and he is a pastor now in Cleveland and a good friend of mine.  And basically what I did was I came here and I started the same thing, just didn’t have a job when I moved up here but just went house to house and said Hey, I’ll do whatever type of work you have around your house that is needed, whether it’s gardening or washing windows or a little bit of this a little bit of that and the Lord just gave me the jobs.  And it was just the Lord said, Hey when I say to move I want you to move.  And even for a long time I still was not sure what the Lord had and so I didn’t buy anything, didn’t get into debt into things and was planning on if the Lord says go here, go there, I was able to do that.  And that’s what it says, not getting entangled in the affairs of this life so that He may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.  I don’t want to say, but Lord let me go say good-bye to my family, let me go bury my father, let me go take care of this financial issue, so I felt the Lord say, When I say Go, you go.  Just like in the military.  Can you imagine our country being at war and they come to all the military guys and say okay, pack up we’re leaving tomorrow.  Well, I’ve go to go fix up my car, I’ve got to go and do this and you know it’s like they’re gone when there told.  And that is how the Lord impressed upon me to live and to be available for Him.  vs. 5 - and then also if anyone competes in athletics he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.  Now, that says there is no shortcut there should be discipline in our life.  Paul spoke about buffeting this body to keep it under subjection, he says I’m free to do a lot of things but I am not going to let anything master me.  And he says, I don’t want to be guilty of preaching to others and then being a cast a way set on the shelf disqualified.  And that is what would happen if an athlete ran in a game and he would not get the reward, he would be a cast a way.  That is the word that was used if someone was found cheating the athletic games.  And so, here as an athlete, I mean you know you watch the Olympics or watch these athletes, I mean they are in ship shape.  They’re ready to do whatever it is they do and they discipline their body there are certain things they don’t eat, I’m sure they have a regimented routine of exercise and you know keeping their body under control.  We are called to do the same thing in our ministry not letting any of the areas of the flesh get out of control.  Now, one of the things that is pretty well known at our church here, I don’t know how it is in other churches but I just know the way the Lord showed me to govern my own life and ministry is that we do not allow men to counsel women on an on going basis.  Now, what I mean by counseling is meeting in room somewhere and they have a discussion you know a dialog and you know next week we will meet at 2:00 p.m. and it goes on and on.  What is permissible is you’re here in the church and a lady comes up and says you know my mom just died and I’m not going to say that I don’t counsel women, you know I’m not talking about that, but I’m not going to meet with someone, even in my office on an ongoing basis.  I’ll meet with someone one time, my secretary will be there at the office or there will be someone there with me but I am not going to put myself in a place where I can be weak, I can be tempted or someone else can be tempted.  And so I’ve tried to put this hedge about me that I would have to break rules that I’ve told my church, you know, it would be obvious so that I don’t fall or stumble in the ministry.  Because when all these people started stumbling and falling, I realized, Hey this is serious stuff, the devil is out to destroy, to kill, steal and destroy.  And so, I need to keep my body under subjection in that way and I think that one of the best ways is to not put yourself in an environment where things are potential or possible.  I think you’ll be wise to do so and to protect yourself and plus I want my wife to feel absolutely 100% secure as well and that she has a peace and a trust about the way we conduct ourselves is upright and not putting ourselves at risk.  And so, I’ve taken from this passage of you know keeping your body under control  vs. 6 - the hard working farmer must be first partake of the cross and that may be speaking of the rewards, you work, you deserve to receive the blessing, the benefit of it, and the Lord does bless your life, bringing in fruit from the ministry or as many interpret this passage to be meaning that as you work, you need to be taking of the fruit yourself to sustain yourself.  You can’t always just be giving out and giving out and giving out and giving out.  You know, as I teach the Bible what I hope I am doing is I am letting God speak to my heart conforming my mind and heart into the image and likeness of Christ through the studies that I am doing and giving, so I am first partaking of what the Spirit of God wants to do then I am giving it out.  And we run in danger, now I would say that it is not every study that you give is going to be necessarily directly for your own life.  Because there are a lot of them that you just kind of feel like, Hey this is not necessarily a point in my life that I need to teach on this subject and there are other ones that you know you need to take heed.  A lot of times what a study is meant to do is God wants to work it into your heart and mind and then you bring it out and the way I do that is, I try and meditate on the messages that I am going to give, on the Scriptures.  And I’m thinking about them constantly, so it’s not like I study and set it aside.  I study, then I start contemplating those principles all during the week.  Meditating on them, you know, just kind of musing them over in my mind and heart, letting God speak to me, letting God give me a direction for the church as well.  So, I do a lot of diligent study but then I just step back and say, okay I know this is not just an academic exercise.  I believe your study should be based on the scripture, you should labor to understand the meaning of that passage but there comes another point where you realize, Hey God wants to speak through all this study that you have done and wants to speak into your heart and into the heart of the church.  And so I will study and then just kind of think about it.  Just kind of contemplate it over and then usually before the study that I am going to give, that’s usually when I put together the final form of my notes and usually I get up early Sunday morning, and put my notes together at that point, because then it is a lot fresher for me.  I feel like I am not you know giving something I’ve prepared last night and I have found for my self that on Saturday night if I put the message together and I come here, it’s almost like the message is here but it’s not in my heart and mind.  And so I get up and it’s like I am ready to go.  And there are other times where I would study, put my final form of the message together on Saturday night and I couldn’t sleep.  I’d have a terrible night sleeping, I’d be like preaching in my sleep because the Word of God would penetrate my heart and it would be like I would be so anxious to get the scripture out and so I’ve decided for me, I contemplate, I try not to set it a side and I’ll pick up some commentaries every once in a while like on a Saturday night there may be a point that I’m not quite understanding or need a little more study on that, usually it’s to fine tune something that I haven’t quite grasped during the week.  And then I just set it aside and I let the Lord speak to my heart and He sort of gives me that direction that way.  That’s for myself.  And each person has to work it out their own way.  But I let God speak to me and I partake of the fruit of the Word letting it change my life because we can get to the habit that we are giving all these studies but yet it’s almost like by passing us.  And I think that is when ministers get into trouble.  Be careful of that.  So you consider these things and let the Lord give you understanding for your ministry.  Then in Chapter 2 that should be vs. 14-18 - a man of the Word, remind them of these things charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no prophets, to the ruin of the hearers, vs. 15 especially, be diligent to present yourself approved to God a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.  And so, as being a person involved in the word in teaching, here is a diligence and notice the approval is to God.  Any study you give, that’s what you should be seeking is God’s approval on the message.  You should never contemplate on how the people are going to respond.  That has no bearing.  God says to study before me and what you present to the people, I want to approve of it.  And if you’re heart is just to teach the Bible and explain what the Bible says then you have no problem.  If you are worried about how people are going to respond then you are in deep trouble here.  You just need to say, okay, Lord give me understanding of the Bible and your Spirit and that’s’ what I ‘m going to say.  If people don’t’ like it, that is their problem.  Now, I need to make sure that I am giving the right interpretation, now if they have a problem because I am interpreting the Bible wrong or just a difference of opinion there, that is something different.  But you have to be approved to God.   And I think that is where the focus is.  I mean you can stand and teach people with that heart of diligent study that your message is right from the scriptures you’ve rightly divided it and you are presenting it accurately based on the context and God’s approval is upon it, I’ll tell you, you will speak with a greater confidence.  In the back of your mind you’re saying, well, this person doesn’t like this or that, who cares if they do not like it or what they think…….you just give it out.  Let them deal with the Lord.  But shun profane and babblings for they will increase to more ungodliness after their message will spread like Hymanitus and Philitus and of the sort who have strayed concerning the truth saying that the resurrection is already past and they over throw the faith of some.  Then in vs. 19 through the end he speaks about holiness.  Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands having the seal, the Lord knows those who are His and let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.  And here he is talking about a building the foundation, the Lord knows those who are His and let everyone who names Him to name Christ depart from iniquity.  Now, see this word “seal” that was used in that day, every building had a seal on it.  Part of it would say who the architect is and part of it would say the purpose of that building.  That’s what Paul is using that metaphor here and the architect is obviously God and He knows the people who belong to it but one of the purposes of the church or the people in that church is the second part, let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.  So God would have us, especially in leadership to be departing from sin, a life of holiness that’s what I believe is His purpose of the church, we belong to Him but we also are those that depart from sin.  But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter and that could be in reference to the false teachers he is talking about, it could be in reference to not departing from iniquity or the need to depart from iniquity, and notice it’s conditional.  If anyone cleanses himself, IF, he will be a vessel for honor for good and Godly purpose.  The purpose that God has called you to.  Sanctify, that means set apart and useful for the Master, so your life will be useful but if it’s clogged up with sin then you are going to be a vessel for dishonor, a vessel used where junk is coming out, rather than honoring God and this next part, I think is just the natural outgrowth if you depart from sin, it says your prepared for every good work.  See what happens when sin comes in and controls our life, there is a kind of like a lethargic spirit that comes over us, and we are not prepared for the work that God has called us to and then when the opportunity comes its like, there is not the drive that is within us, but something happens when you start saying “no” to sin.  You start departing from sin, that means you are moving in a direction away from sin, but it also automatically means that you are moving toward God.  And as you start moving towards the Lord, what your heart begins to do, it begins to cry out “Lord, use me for your Kingdom”.  There is just something that happens when we repent and we set our hearts out to seek the Lord it’s like our prayers become more “God use my life for your purpose, you’re doing this for me, I want to take that out to others.”  See, but when we are not departing from iniquity we are not crying out, God use me.  You know, I think what ministry is, I think ministry is just simply taking what God has done in my life and passing it on.  And when that is not happening, ministry stops and you go through the motions and eventually you just go down and you crash.  Because you are not getting that input.  And the Lord says, depart from iniquity and the automatic result of that is that you will be useful and you will be prepared.  I’ve so often encouraged our church that one of the things I’ve seen about just the church in general, God uses some of the most interesting people.  And I do believe that every church that God raises up has every gift there to do whatever God has asked them to do.  We need to make sure that is what we are doing, we are not over committed, we’re not doing works that God hasn’t asked us to do but whatever He has asked us to do, the church should never lack.  Because whatever he has asked you to do He is going to place those gifts within the Body of Christ.  And sometimes, obvious because of human nature because of people’s own decisions, they are not functioning in that gift and so someone else picks up the load.  Because they’re heart is just to serve the Lord, and here is an opportunity, although I don’t really have the gift or ability to do that, I’ll go for it.  And they pour their heart into it and maybe they don’t do it as good as this other person can but Hey, the Lord honors that.  And I’ve seen often times some of the most gifted and most natural ability that you see in people, sometimes they are the ones that don’t use the things that are involved in the things of the Kingdom of God.  And so God, just looks for that vessel that’s willing and able and uses them.  I don’t think that is the way that the church needs to be or should be.  You know if the Lord could take those first disciples and look at the result of that even affecting today, He doesn’t need a lot.  And He doesn’t need smart people, because the Power and the Wisdom is His, He doesn’t need mighty people, charismatic people, He has the Power.  So, He could take something that is very weak and flow His Spirit through.  I have found often times there are people that are functioning in abilities whereas other people would do a lot better, but maybe sin has come in and their hearts are choked out and they really aren’t useful, prepared for the Kingdom of God.  I don’t know about you, but I want to make my life right there in the center of God’s will that when He says this is what I want you to do, my heart is already saying, that’s what I’ve been praying for Lord.  Not like you have to tap me on the shoulder and say, Hey let’s wake up here, I got a plan over here for you that I want you to do, let’s get moving.  I want Him just to say, this is the direction and whew . . we are on it because we are prepared.  We’ve been crying out, God use my life, and then here is the door that opens.  Praise the Lord.  That’s what I’ve been waiting for, that’s what I’ve been praying for, rather than being lethargic and just going through.  And so you are prepared when we depart.  Flee also youthful lusts, and that’s not only sexual lust but any lust that you would get into and that could be building your own empire in the ministry, it could be making a name for yourself, wanting people to know who YOU are or you building for yourself rather than for the Kingdom of God.  I mean David was 50 years old when he committed that sin with Bathsheba so, it’s a constant never ending battle that goes on.  But pursue righteousness, notice earlier we were having departing iniquity and now we are pursuing something.  I think again those two things are almost automatic.  Because you really cannot be departing and not pursuing after something.  If you are not departing iniquity then you are not pursuing after righteousness, faith, love, peace.  This is important with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.  I think you need to be around other people that are going to have the same heart that you have for the things of God.  Something more disheartening than getting together and people just don’t have a heart for the Kingdom of God.  You know, I don’t have a lot to talk about outside of things of the Lord.  And anything you bring up, my minds going to think of the perspective of Scripture and to be around someone constantly who just doesn’t have that mind set, it’s just, you know eventually it will have the potential to drain you.  And so, Paul says Timothy you keep with others that have this same desire to pursue after these things.  And then you start encouraging one another with your pursuit with the things of the Lord.  Rather than taking off on a detour.  But, I think that as you follow these Scriptures here you are going to be prepared and the Lord is going to open the door for ministry and you are just going to walk right through it.  And so that’s what we all need to be doing is pursuing after righteousness, faith, love, peace, departing from iniquity and then we’re going to be that vessel that God says, okay, that’s the one that I want to use.  Your not going to miss out for what He has for our life.  You are prepared, useful and that’s where our heart should be, crying out God use my life.  I believe He will say, well cut these things out, pursue after this, and then you will just see these doors open and you’ll be the tool that God uses.  Now what a joy!  What a privilege to be used by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  I believe here is a condition that these things thrive from.  Let’s look over in Jeremiah.  Baroque was Jeremiah’s scribe and he says this interesting phrase, he says, - and do you seek great things for yourself, do not seek them.  See your ministry should not be a pursuit to seek great things for yourself.  The bible says, humble yourself under the Mighty hand of God and He will raise you up in due time.  And sometimes the ministry can be a place of prestige and honor and respect which surely, that should not be what you are in it for.  Because that can be taken away too.  And then where are you?  So, don’t seek great things for yourself.  I remember hearing John Macarthur on a tape and he said he never prayed that the Lord would bring one more person to his church.  He said his prayer has been God help me to take care of the ones you’ve already given to me.  I thought that’s the right heart.  Why should we think that we are deserving of God giving us more people than what He has already given us?  Or even one person that He would entrust us to.  So, you just need to focus on being thankful that God would use our lives, not seeking great things, let God bring about what He wants to bring from us.  Let’s look at the life of Christ, obviously we can’t leave Him out, the ultimate example.  And look over at humility and the example in John 13, I believe you are familiar with where he washed the feet of the disciples, remember no one would wash the feet but then He set an example.  And he did say, Blessed are you if you do these things and there is a blessing in serving others rather than only wanting to be served.  But look over in Philippians Chapter 2 - it gets to the heart of the matter, vs. 5 - He says let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made himself of no reputation.  He was not seeking great things for himself, he came here, He didn’t come in regal powers as a King, He came as a humble servant.  Taking the form of a servant, now that doesn’t mean just the outward qualities but also the inward qualities as well.  That is what was in the heart of the Lord.  He didn’t just do acts of service.  He was a servant.  He was humble.  I think for us, we are capable of doing acts of humility, doing acts of service, but are we truly a servant?  Are we truly humble?  There is a difference.  Sometimes there is a limit to our humility, well, okay I’ve been humble and I’ve served in these things for long enough and now I’ll let someone else do it.  You never come to a point where you outgrow doing things for the Kingdom of God.  That was the true nature of Christ, I did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.  So, He took on the very nature of a servant, that was His attitude in life.  Ultimately, demonstrating it and being crucified on the cross, the ultimate form of humility, died a loser, died a blasphemer, died  accursed of God, paying for the sins of others and He is saying we are to have that same mind that’s within us.  I mean that was within Jesus Christ.  I think we all have a little ways to grow on that one in compared to Christ, but that is one that needs to be focused over and over again, of just seeing what needs to be done in the ministry and do it, don’t wait for someone else, don’t think that you are above that job or that you have outgrown that responsibility.  You know, I know that a lot of you have probably heard a lot of stories about Pastor Chuck and his example, but I was able to witness one personally and it actually embarrassed me a little bit, we had our last pastor’s conference at Marietta, you know that conference center out there and he was sick all through the conference and he got up and gave a study and you could tell that you know, he wasn’t quite 100% but he said, I couldn’t miss this and he gave out the scripture, and I went and packed my bags and at the end I was running through the coffee house there and here in I saw him in this multi-million dollar facility pulling the weeds out of this one planter.  Bent over, you know, pulled them out and was making it clean.  Now, he could have walked by and said, gosh, where are the gardeners, why aren’t they fixing this?  -- He just did it.  See, I was too busy, I had to go get my coffee and get my car packed and when I left, I just felt like, uuuuuuuugh, here is a sick man who just preached his heart out and you know, getting older but he just wants that place to be just right.  It really left an impact upon my heart that you would never know how tired you may be, how long you’ve been in the ministry, those things that you do unto the Lord, you never outgrow those, you are never too big for those, like okay, well, I put in my time being a humble servant, now I have more important things to do.  Radical.  So, let’s remain in that spirit.  But Acts 10 vs. 38 - in speaking of  the ministry of Christ, it says, - and God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with Power who went about doing good in healing all who were pressed by the devil for God was with him.  And so here we have the aspect of Jesus being empowered by the Holy Spirit.  You know that should speak volumes to our own heart but that is why He was able to do the works of power and healing, I mean what chance do we have of doing the ministry apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.  Zechariah says, Not By Might, Nor by Power, But by My Spirit says the Lord.  And there he was faced with the challenge of seen the temple rebuilt and the people’s hearts were lethargic.  Haggai was raised up to come in and speak to the people and say Hey! - Consider what you are doing, and God used a prophet to stir up the heart of the people to get back to work on the temple but for Zerrubeble he was just supposed to wait on the Lord and God energize the lives, so it wasn’t the work that he did and Jesus said apart from me you can do nothing.  And so, I think those are crucial ones we’ve looked at the last two in the life of Jesus Christ being a servant and being empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Those are like two you cannot do without.  You can do the ministry, and you can function in the church but if you want to do the work of God, those two things are absolutely necessary.  It is interesting that I think that the church is moving away from just a simple reliance upon the Holy Spirit to bring about the effects of the church.  I sat down with a friend of mine this week and he told me of an experience, he started going to this new church and a lot of good things were happening and then he started going to the Sunday School class and the Pastor started telling his vision of ministry and it was all this church growth program, seeker sensitive kind of stuff and so he went in there and he sat down with the guy because the guy had a heart for the Lord and loved the Lord and basically you know this guy is a business man and he says, it was like I was at work.  You know we have our five year _____, here is our market, here is a target individual that we are trying to reach, and he said it sickened his stomach.  You know the man wanted to reach people who just like, this is just not spiritual and some went to the churches flooding after this stuff and their justifications were  well, it works.  You tell me in the Bible where it says, if it works, use it.  That’s the American mindset, corporate America has infiltrated the church.  And they had all these tests that they could give to people to put them in certain ministries and it was sick, does this match the type of person that should be in that and we need an outgoing personality for these ministries and I said, well gee, I would not have qualified being a pastor I’m not an outgoing personality, I really don’t like to talk until you put a Bible in front of me and so people will listen and I can go on and on other than that, I don’t have an outgoing personality, I would have failed that test.  And it’s just like who needs the Holy Spirit when we could have these things to bring together.  You know, it’s just such a shame, it saddens my  heart, I don’t get mad, it just saddens my heart what people are going to do because they will meet with a certain degree of success but success in the eyes of man not so much in the eyes of God.  And let’s close our study with this passage in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 1 - vs. 26 - I’d like to call this the Hall of Shame, you’ve ever heard of the Hall of Fame?  These are the ones that the Lord picks.  You know, the Lord goes after losers, so you put these tests out and all the losers fail but those are all the ones the Lord is choosing.  It’s amazing - it says, for you see your calling brethren but not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.  So God doesn’t go out to the strong and the mighty because they are too filled with themselves.  Because you can’t be controlled by the Spirit of God and controlled by your own ingenuity at the same time.  Now, I’m not saying that the Spirit of God does not lead in reasonable ways, but there are times when He leads in very unreasonable ways to ask you to do foolish things that do not make sense.  And if you got if all factored out, then how could you be led by the Spirit?  Just thinking of this and looking at the Old Testament, I love that story of David where all the brothers passed for the prophet Samuel and the father, he doesn’t even think to bring in the twerp, the little runt, he’s out there taking care of the sheep and even Samuel says, this must be the one the Lord chose, he sees this big, strong guy come in and God says, that’s not the one I’ve taken.  And he went all the way through and he said, I know I’ve got the right house, Jess anybody else?  And he says, yea, one of my sons is out there tending the sheep, and that’s the one that the Lord chooses.  I love that about the Lord.  He doesn’t choose based on the outward appearance, he doesn’t chose based on our abilities, look what He does, He calls us, then He gives us the ability to do what He has asked us to do and you can’t figure that out.  God draws by the heart.  He gives you a passion for something.  You may look at your qualifications, you don’t meet the qualifications at a natural level but then God brings His Power of the Holy Spirit to that humble heart, that realized that I can’t do this God unless you are with me.  And I’m not going to unless you empower me to do it.  That’s not someone who is crying out but that Spirit of humility but God shows the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty.  Now underline the qualifications as we go through that.  That would be the (1) foolish, (2) weak, and (3) and the base things of the world, that means the insignificant, or lowly, the outcast, do not have any rank or power in society, the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen so we have four qualifications, foolish, weak, base and despised.  And you say, I don’t like any of those.  Okay, there is one more for you, and the things which are not, so there is where you fit, you are not.  If you are not despised, based or foolish then you are nothing, you are not, whatever it is, that is a pretty broad category.  To bring to nothing the things that are, here is the reason, that no flesh should glory in his presence.  I encourage you to mediate on Zechariah Chapter 4, and it says that when we bring that capstone to the final stone on the building they are going to yell out “grace, grace to it.”  And that’s what you want from your life, that when God does something, people aren’t focusing on you, they are focusing on the power of God, that God is doing these things.  And people will appreciate you for what you do and you are the vessel that God used and the bottom line is you want people to be glorifying God, no flesh would glory.  See, if you have a master plan - a five year plan of how you are going to implement that and it works, well the designer of the plan seems to get the credit, right?  I remember hearing about this church growth stuff in the beginning and they talk about a five year plan and I went back into my office and I tried to think well, what could I do in five years?  And I honestly thought, I don’t really know what I’m going to do beyond next Sunday, let alone the next 5 years.  I don’t really have a master plan but I think the Master has a plan and so that is good enough for me.  I don’t have a master plan.  I just keep on showing up when the Lord has given me the opportunity to teach the Bible and that is my plan.  And God brings the fruit.  And God directs.  Oh, you need this over here, you need this to be strengthened in here and so He focuses on that.  And I wait for those leadings, but again I do not have this over arching detailed stepped out plan.  It totally stresses me out when I think about it.  I totally started getting, well, I don’t have this ability and then I start focusing on myself, and it just got discouraging rather than, Hey, God has a plan and He is going to lead us and He is going to bless us and who knows, because the Bible says He is able to do above and beyond what we ask or think.  So why limit God by your silly plan?  Because you think this is what God said he can do far and beyond that.  And so that ‘s why I believe He just called the weak and the despised where they are just glad to be picked by somebody.  They haven’t got over that fact yet.  And you know, I know that for my life, when the Lord called me, I was in a foster home, I caused problems there and the family took me in.  My life was on the line and I was definitely insignificant, definitely no rank, you know, not even in my own family, I wasn’t even connected with my own family members.  I had no family to speak of other than these people that brought me into their family.  At that point, God rescued me and saved me.  So, I realize this has nothing to do with me, it all had to do with the Lord.  And I want to die with that mentality.  Rather than me trying to strategize so that He gets ALL the glory!  He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.  And that is what you want to see people do, when they look at your life they say, God can use that knucklehead, I think He can use me.  They will be encouraged, rather than discouraged.


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