The Joy of Ministry

The Joy of Ministry

The Book of Acts switches emphasis from Paul, who had just been converted, to Peter, and for the next couple of chapters, Peter is going to dominate, and then Paul is going to take the scene and Paul is going to dominate the rest of the Book of Acts from Chapter 13, 14, on. This little interlude is given to us to help us realize that the ministry of Paul and the ministry of Peter are not in conflict.

There are some liberal scholars who say the ministry between Peter and Paul were great conflict and there was a great war between the two and Paul would end up winning the day and, “that is unfortunate,” in the view of many. That is not what we find when we read the Scripture. What we find when we read the Scripture is a seamless ministry of Jesus Christ by these two great leaders.

Abraham Lincoln said, “No man is poor who has a Godly mother.” That is very true. This morning we take up the topic of Christian ministry in general and the immense impact of Godly mothers.

There is a Spanish proverb that reads, “An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.” No clergyman, no Sunday school teacher, no AWANA worker, no evangelist influences the spiritual direction of today’ s young generation more than Christian mothers do; Christian mothers who focus their lives on ministering the Gospel to their children. Many faithful and unknown moms will occupy a higher place in God’s Kingdom than do many prominent Christian leaders.

Think of some of the great men of the Bible – like Moses and Samuel and Timothy. Where would they have been were it not been for their praying and Spirit-led mothers? The Scripture records their mothers’ great influence upon their lives. Or, think through church history; we think of the greats, such as Augustine and John Newton and the zealous Wesley’s. Their names may never have lined the pages of church history were it not for their praying and Godly mothers.

When Robert Ingersoll, a notorious skeptic and opponent of Christianity, was in his heyday, there were two college students that went to hear him lecture. As they walked down the street after the lecture, one of the students said to the other, “Well, I guess he knocked the props out of Christianity, didn’t he?” The other said, “No, I don’t think he did.” He went onto explain, “Ingersoll did not explain my mother’s life. And, until he can explain my mother’s life, I will stand by my mother’s God.” Do you see the power and influence of the Christian ministry of mothers?

I am most thankful that I speak from experience of being raised by a mom who ministered to me faithfully by her graceful life, her fervent praying, her patient instruction in the Word and the Gospel, her focus on Jesus and His Gospel message. God’s Spirit used her ministry in my life to lead me to the Cross of Jesus; and how thankful I am.

What a tragedy it is to neglect the counsel of a Godly mother. This is a grace in our lives when it comes to us in that way, and what a tragedy it is when we neglect it.

In fact, Proverbs 1, Verse 8, (NKJV), says,

…do not forsake the law of your mother…

I don’t think it is too helpful for me to dance around the subject or be vague this morning, so, I jump into the practical business. Some of you have come, perhaps, this morning just to honor your moms and so you have come to church. For that I commend you. I hope that you honor your mom in such a way every week. But, your mom has taught you of Jesus, of His sacrifice, of His Cross for you, of His love, of His free offer of life and forgiveness. Your mom’s greatest and most impassioned prayers have been for your soul; that you would turn to Jesus and be saved from your sin. And yet, there are some of you, on this matter, who have yet wandered from her teaching; who have drifted from Jesus Christ, who have rejected Him altogether, thus rejecting the Law of you mother.

At the beginning of our study I call you to take hold of Jesus. We discover today, in our Bibles, that Jesus alone can make you whole. I urge you not to delay, but run to Him, to flee to Him, so your life, your soul, your spirit, your whole life might be made whole and well; that you might know joy of knowing God and being in a relationship with Him.

In Acts, Chapter 9, Verses 32 through 43 we learn of two great miracles performed by Jesus through Peter. In these stories we learn of God’s pattern for Christian ministry. Ministry, of course, is not relegated to a few in God’s Kingdom but if you are a son or daughter of the Kingdom, you are called to ministry in that Kingdom. Some ask, “Well, how can I minister to others for Jesus sake?” “Well, what can I do?” Peter helps us answer these questions by providing an example for us. We must follow God’s pattern of Christ in ministry in order to be blessed by God in that ministry. This pattern that is provided for us is true whether you are ministering in your home, to your children, or in your neighborhood, or in your workplace, or through the church or some other Christian ministry in the community wherever you are.

As we observe Acts 9, we see there are seven specific decisions that we must make in order to be effective and joyful in Christian ministry. These decisions are as follows: first, we make ourselves willing; second, we emphasize Jesus; third, we respond to God’s agenda; fourth we must call out to God in prayer; fifth, we ask for a response; sixth that we take risks in faith; and finally, we reject prejudice.

The first decision that we are called to make as we enter ministry is that we must make ourselves willing. The number one reason why Christians are not effective in ministry is because they are not involved in ministry; they have yet to become willing to jump in, there are too many things happening in their life other than ministry that occupies their time and their energy and their resources. There is an old saying, “You can never win if you don’t play.” That is true; if we never join the game we can never have the hopes of knowing the joy of winning the game. God intends, behind Christian ministry, to provide His people with immense joy. We will never know this joy until we make ourselves willing participants of God’s work.

Many Christians choose to sit on the sidelines and to watch ministry being done by others. Such “spectator Christianity” is absolutely foreign to the Bible. It is not known in all the pages of sacred Scripture.

We begin by looking at Verse 31 and 32. It says,

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.

Remember, this falls on the heel of a time of great persecution and the church is now strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, and it continued to grow in numbers. It continues to live in the fear of the Lord. Up to this time, and during the time of persecution, the Apostles considered it wise and prudent to stay in Jerusalem and to hold the church together there, while many of the Christians were being scattered, particularly the Greek-speaking Christians. But, now, the Apostles, particularly Peter, during a time of peace entering into the life of the church, sees fit to begin to travel. He travels, not for the sake of sightseeing, but it tells us he travels “to visit the saints.”
As “Paul traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints…

and he comes to a particular town by the name of Lydda; some twenty-five miles away from Jerusalem.

Peter is immersing himself in ministry to others. He is making himself willing to be involved. He is compelled by God’s Spirit not to sit on the sidelines but to jump in. This simple fisherman is greatly used of God as he becomes willing to follow God in working in His Kingdom. Please notice that such ministry certainly is not convenient to Peter. It would have been convenient to stay in Jerusalem, but none the less, he takes on the difficult task of travel in the 1st Century, and he travels some twenty-five miles to get to this obscure town named Lydda.

In Verse 33, then, it says,

There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years.

Someone, perhaps, asks the question, “Well, if I decide to get involved in ministry, what would I do?” “Where would I go?” This is absolutely the wrong question to be asking. God’s Word instructs us to first decide to get involved, to decide to be willing to join God’s work, to settle that question. And then, after we decide that we are willing to work and minister in God’s Kingdom, then we can expect God to lead us and direct us. We cannot expect for God to bargain with us. “So, okay, Lord, if I choose to agree to your deal, what would you have me to do?”

When I came to Bethany almost twelve years ago, it did not happen this way. It did not happen by me saying, “God, if you would have me to serve your church, where would you have me go? What would you have me to do?” And, God’s Spirit says, “Well, how about Peoria, Ritch, and how about Bethany Baptist Church in Peoria?” “Well, God, do you have anything along the coast?” You see, that is not the way God works. Here is the way God works.

When I was a young man, I recognized God’s call upon my life to get active in God’s service. Some of those things that God called me to do, once I became willing, surprised me. One of the things was to teach a Bible study. The last thing in my imagination was that I would be speaking in front of people leading a Bible study; and yet, “God, whatever you want me to do.” I first began working with some children in the church, VBS, and getting active in God’s service, in prayer meetings, and various opportunities that arose. But, God began to lead me and as I committed my way to Him, it became clear twelve years ago that part of God’s plan was for me to come to Peoria, Illinois, and Bethany Baptist Church, and for that I am forever thankful to God for His graciousness in leading me so.

If we are to know what God would have us to do, we first must decide to commit ourselves to serving in His Kingdom. God is the ministry planner; we are to be the willing servants.

Let’s look at a few verses from Ephesians 2:8 and 9 (NKJV), as an encouragement.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

This is the great story of each one who has come to know Jesus Christ as Savior, but then it goes on to say in Verse 10,

For (now that we are saved by grace) we are (God’s) workmanship, (we are) created in Christ Jesus (to do) good works. . .

Then it says something more, that is sort of the general call that we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works and be ministers of His Kingdom, but then it tells us something more specific, which these works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do; that God has set aside something for you to do that will bring you immeasurable joy as you are active in God’s Kingdom and in God’s plan, but the first decision you have to make is, “Lord, I am willing, whatever you ask me to do throughout my life, I’m willing, I’m willing.”

Isaiah records God asking, “Who will I send and who will go for us?” God doesn’t say where and God doesn’t when, but He is just simply asking, “Whom will I send?” Isaiah has the right spirit and he says, “Here I am Lord, send me.” I ask you is that your spirit this morning? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and that is not your spirit, I would ask you, “Why not? Why are you pushing away the joy that God is calling you to?”

There is no greater purpose in life than the purpose of serving Jesus. Do not let some disappointment in the past, some temptation to sin, some distraction of the things of this world keep you from that which would offer you and provide you with immeasurable and eternal joy.

The second decision that God calls us to make in effective ministry is that we emphasize Jesus and His healing.

Look at Verse 34, of Acts 9,

“Aeneas,” Peter said…”Jesus Christ heals you.”

The emphasis again is on Jesus; first, the emphasis in on Jesus by imitating Him. If we would read Mark’s account of Jesus’ ministry to a paralytic that was let down through the roof, we would hear that Peter is almost echoing the exact same words that Jesus used (Mark 2:9), “Get up. Take up you bed and walk.” He looks at Aeneas, just as he remembered Jesus himself doing; he is imitating the ministry of Jesus, and he says to Aeneas,

“Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.”

Interestingly, if we would move forward in our story in Acts 9, we see Peter again imitating Jesus with his ministry to Tabitha. He says (Verse 40),

“Tabitha, get up.”

In Mark, Chapter 5, Jesus comes into a very similar situation of a little girl who had grown sick and had died and everybody is crying and He puts everyone out of the room, even as Peter then will imitate Jesus, emphasizing Jesus, puts everyone out of the room, and then, interestingly, Jesus says (Verse 41),

“Talitha koum!”

meaning, “Little girl, get up!” But, what does Peter say because this little girl’s name is Tabitha, Peter says, “Tabitha koum!” Jesus says, “Talitha koum!” Peter says, “Tabitha koum;” imitating Jesus.

“Tabitha, get up.”

Peter emphasizes Jesus in his actions, but also, Peter emphasizes Jesus in his words. He says,

“Jesus Christ heals you.”

Peter knows that nothing in himself is valuable to this paralytic man. No bit of homespun wisdom or anecdote could be offered him to help him from this disease. He knew that this man needed Jesus because only Jesus could help him in his condition. Aeneas was hopelessly diseased; for eight years he had been paralyzed. If Jesus didn’t touch him he would remain paralyzed until the day of his death. His disease was incurable by human standards. Other physicians had, undoubtedly, gone in to try and help this man but they were unable.

This man, Aeneas, is meant to reveal to us the condition of our own inner life before God. The Bible tells us that our soul is truly sick; incurably so with sin. We are hopelessly paralyzed in our spirit so that we cannot move toward God, we cannot praise Him, we cannot rightly relate to Him, we cannot walk our way up the stairway to Heaven. This is the condition into which we are born. We are spiritually diseased and paralyzed. Do you know this to be true of your life?

I rejoice to think that God has revealed this to you. I rejoice to think that God might reveal this to you today. This is the necessary work to repair a heart so that we might begin to seek out the Great Physician. Until we come to know the depth of our sickness, we think that somehow there is some remedy that we can provide for ourselves; some balm that we can put on our own soul, but that is not true. It is only Jesus, whose supernatural touch, whose miraculous touch, is needed to change the condition of our life.

Jesus said (Mark 2: 17),

“The healthy do not need a doctor, but the sick.”

Jesus goes on to say (Matthew 9:13),

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners…”

In saying this, Jesus is not suggesting that there are some walking this earth who are righteous ones; who do not need Him. Rather, He is pointing out why true sinners are so attracted to Him. Those who know the true condition of their soul are drawn to Jesus because they recognize He is their only hope.

Have you found this out for yourself? If so, please know, there is no sin, no amount of sin, no quantity of sin, no depth of sin, no time of duration of sin that can prevent Jesus from making you whole if you call upon Him in faith.

It is impossible for that paralysis to keep Aeneas down on the ground, unable to move, once Jesus’ name is ventured upon his sickness. It is true that you can have hope and you can have the joy of knowing that your sin has a solution, and that solution is Jesus.

Aeneas believed in Jesus, “There is good news, Christ Jesus heals you,” Peter said and that is why he gets up.

Perhaps you have heard of Jesus, even as Aeneas did, and I imagine Aeneas heard of Jesus before this; there were saints in that city, but now he is called to faith, to respond, to turn to Jesus and that is exactly what he has done. Perhaps you have come to know that God so loves you that he sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world to die as a sacrifice for your sin. And, perhaps, faithful men and women, even faithful children, have ministered to you by emphasizing Jesus. Perhaps you have had Jesus emphasized in your home or in the Sunday school class or from the pulpit in the church in which you grew up. Perhaps there are some friends who emphasized Jesus in their conversation or in Bible reading or you have heard others in you life emphasize Jesus to you. Why is it, then, that you are still paralyzed in sin? I tell you there is only one reason and that is your unwillingness to call out to God in faith; for God heals everyone who responds and turns to Jesus Christ.

In joyful ministry, there is always an emphasis on Jesus. We cannot speak of Him enough in both our actions and our imitation and in our words. I have one word of application to moms and dads in the home. It is vital in your ministry to your children to tell them of Jesus; to tell them in your Bible reading, to plead for them in Jesus’ name out loud in your prayers so that they would hear you call on Jesus’ name to make them whole; “In Jesus Christ, be healed.” Your children need to hear you say that, and pray that and pray to God for that. It is necessary as Godly moms and dads to reveal Jesus in everyday life to them. In fact, it is important to emphasize Jesus even by making them go to church and making them go to Sunday school and making them go to a youth group; a youth group that will teach them the Bible.

What?

You make them go to school, don’t you? What is more important in their life? You are not fearful, “Oh, if I make them go to school they will turn away from school forever, and they won’t desire education.” There is this strange and, I believe, demonic deception among Christian parents that if we make our kids go to church and Sunday school and youth group that somehow they will grow up hating God. It is indeed a fact, that if you make you children go to school they may hate education and if you make your children go to church they may hate God, but it has nothing to do with you making them do what is right. It has every1hing to do with the decision and willfulness of their soul.

The greatest thing we can do for our children is to emphasize Jesus in as many ways as we possibly can.

The third decision of Christian ministry is this: we respond to God’s agenda.

Verses 35 through 38,

All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

Great responsiveness!

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.

What a precious woman; one of those women who otherwise would not have even been known, but whose ministry was impacting many; a ministry of service and helps and of mercy.

About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs
room. Lydda was near Joppa…

When it says that, it means “ten miles or so away.”

…so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

Peter is having good, fruitful ministry in Lydda. Peter could have said, “You know, I hear your request, but this doesn’t fit in my master plan of ministry.” If we are to have a joyful, Christian ministry, we must respond to God’s agenda; we must be willing to set aside our own.

Proverbs 16:9, says that it is a good thing to have a master plan of ministry.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

It is vital for us in our own personal ministry, as well as the ministry of a church, to recognize God’s Sovereign authority to change the plan.

There are three truths about God’s agenda which are important to recognize. First “God’s agenda often messes up my plans, and I am going to have to change my plans if I am going to follow God’s agenda”

The second truth about God’s agenda is that God’s agenda often seems much less significant than my plans. Peter was ministering to a whole community that was coming to know Christ; this whole village, and he is told about a woman who no one really knows much about except that she does some good and she has made some clothes for some poor people. That’s all he knows about Tabitha? God’s agenda often times seems much less significant than my own.

Finally, God’s agenda requires that I trust Him and that I trust Him implicitly and wholly. Peter was having a huge impact in Lydda but God called him out to minister to one, obscure woman. God cares deeply about the individual and His ways are higher than our ways. No matter how large a ministry a church may have, God calls His servants to minister to precious individuals. It is the individuals who are always the important, not the masses; individuals who are often hidden and in out-of-the-way places and God calls us to never to be too big for the Tabitha’s of the world. Peter wasn’t.

Verse 39,

Peter went with them…

Peter went with them. Peter listened to God and he responded immediately. Churches and individual Christians must be quick to answer God’s leading. Following God’s agenda does not always fit our cookie-cutter design of doing ministry. Instead, it requires us to keep in tune with God’s Spirit. It requires us to be humble before Him, listening to Him, submitting to Him, and following His lead.

It is my belief that ministry is supposed to be fun. It is a lot of work, to be sure and there will be tears along the way, but ministry is to be fun; it is to be joyful. I believe that ministry is only fun when we follow God. God is the one who makes ministry a joyful adventure and we know things are way out of our control and it is, thankfully, in control of a Sovereign God. We could never orchestrate these things.

There are some joy-killers in ministry we have to be aware of. Joy-killers such as saying, “You know we have never done that before.” “Maybe God wants to do something new.” Peter had never gone to a woman named Tabitha who had just died before, but he does here because he is following God’s agenda.

Another joy-killer – we have to be careful of we might set a precedent. That is just a huge joy-killer to ministry because that keeps us from ever following God’s agenda, “You know, if I go to every woman who dies, I’m going to have to, you know I’ve set a precedent, and I will have to do that with every woman who’ dies and I won’t be able to do that.” No, he didn’t care about that. All he knew is that God’s Spirit was telling him to go to this village in Joppa and minister to this community and, specifically, Tabitha. It didn’t matter what precedent was being set. All he cared about, “This is what God is leading us to do. We are sure of that. Lot’s go and do it. God will take care of the rest.”

Decisions for ministry – we make ourselves willing; we emphasize Jesus; we respond to God’s agenda; the fourth decision is we call to God in prayer.

In Verse 40, Peter gets down on his knees and he begins to pray. Prayer is the cry of the heart that depends on God to work, because if God doesn’t work, nothing else is going to be able to be effective and happen. We are beyond our own abilities, our own sense of adequacies, when we get involved in God’s work in His Kingdom.

This is specifically true for moms and their ministry to their children. When our children are young, it is possible for us to think that we have some kind of control over the goals that they set and the direction of their lives; that somehow we can control that, we can manipulate that. We watch Dr. Phil. We watch “The Nanny.” We take a couple of Sunday school classes and, “Bam!” we can control exactly what is going to happen in their life. As they get older, we realize there are some things that are important to do for our children that helps them. But ultimately, what happens in their life has to be a miracle work, of God in their heart, and that is the reason why I need to pray because if my kids are going to follow God in their life it is going to be because of one thing – God has unleashed His Grace in such a merciful and loving way that it overwhelms them to the point of being truly, Christ-centered, God-honoring, young men. That is true for every child.

It has been a joy, this past couple of weeks, when I preached a sermon on the necessity of everyone having a conversion story and my youngest son, Jackson, was talking to his Mom. They started talking about his conversion story. He says, “You know, Mom, I was sitting in church on a Sunday night and they starting singing this hymn,” and I don’t even remember what the hymn was, “but, they started singing this hymn and I started realizing what a great sinner I was and how much God loves me.”

I remember that Sunday night because I looked down I saw Jackson crying. I thought, “Something has happened.” Someone stole a toy or something like that, but he was just sobbing; his heart was broken. Let me ask you, how does that happen? It can’t happen because I manipulate, psychologically or environmentally, this young man. It happens only because God sheds His Grace on a young man. So, we pray.

The fifth decision – we ask for a response.

Both to Aeneas, he says, “Get up!” and then to Tabitha, he says, “Get up!” He uses the same word, in both cases, “Get up!” It is interesting because this word, “Get up” is the same words, the same term, used of God raising Jesus up, “Get up!” I don’t think that is by accident. I believe, as Luke is writing, he wants us to see the connection, that there is a spiritual salvation that is happening there; there is a spiritual resurrection of both of these individuals.

Joyful ministry never lets truth hang limp on the vine, but always is bold in asking for a response. Sometimes we forget this step and it is important for us as parents, it is important for us as Sunday school teachers, as pastors, not to just give a general response and say, “Hey, you all, I think you all should come to faith in Christ.” It is important for us to look the individuals in the eye and say, “What are you going to do with Jesus Christ?” “Are you going to believe in Him?” “Are you going to turn to Him?” “Are you going to follow Him in your life?” “What are you going to do?” Ask for a response. That is a decision in Christian ministry that makes it joyful.

When we are asking for a response, we must be clear; no question about what God wants them to do. “Get up!” That is what God wants you to do. Be personal; no question about who Peter is talking about. The response to God’s offer of salvation is this, “Repent and believe,” and this is it, my friends, God calls you, “Repent and believe.”

The sixth decision – we must risks in faith.

We have to ask the question in faith, “What happens if Aeneas does not get up; if Tabitha does not rise from the dead?” Peter is going to look absolutely the fool. His ministry is basically over. “If God doesn’t work, I am going to really look really, really silly. In fact, I am going to loose my reputation in such a horrible way that no one will ever believe anything I have to say ever again. I looked at a paralyzed man, I said, ‘Get up, take up you mat.’ I look at a dead girl and I say, ‘Hey, rise, wake up,’ if something doesn’t happen, we are going to look really, really bad.”

Beloved, when the church gets large enough to start thinking, “How are we going to just maintain?” “How do we keep this thing from falling apart?” That must never be our objective. God is in charge of that. What God wants us to do in ministry is, “What miraculous thing does God want us to accomplish next by His Spirit?” In doing that we recognize we have to rest everything, we put all, all, of it on the table, all at once, every time. The pot gets bigger, “Okay, there is more to risk.” God says, “Risk it. Trust me. Trust me”

A couple of incidences in our church life – I think of planting a church at the risk of loosing one hundred of your most committed people, serving God; one hundred of your most giving people in terms of finances, and yet, you know, in our church leadership, I can say, that wasn’t even an issue. We just asked, “What does God want us to do? If God wants us to loose one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, God is going to take care of us if this is what He wants us to do. We need to follow Him. We need to take this risk.”

On a personal level, I praise God that in this church we seen numbers of people reveal what it means to take risks in order for personal ministry. I think of Art and Mary Beth Georges, Dave and Carol Beakley, John and Diane Sandy, Barb Becker, Sean and Christie Lewis, Matt and Amy Morgan and Patrick Emmert. I think of these people who have had secure jobs; they had set their career path, they got their education, they had this great career that they were in, and God called them. What did He call them to? I don’t know. I don’t know what is out there. I just know that God calls me and He calls my family with me; he calls my children, and off we go to serve God.

I know that that decision is not the call of God upon everyone, but I do know that if you are a minister of Jesus’ church God calls you to take risks in faith. That is what I know.

Decisions: we make ourselves willing; we emphasize Jesus; we respond to God’s agenda; we call out to God in prayer. We need to pray. We need to be a praying church; a praying people. We ask for a response directly, clearly, personally. We take risks in our faith and, lastly, we reject prejudice.

Verse 41, says,

He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.

There is the fruit.

This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.

Verse 43,

Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

That is a curious thing. Here is this huge miracle has happened and Luke all of a sudden tells us where Peter is staying the night. Why in the world is he telling us where Peter is staying the night? A tanner, in Jewish culture, was unclean. He is always dealing with dead animals. In fact, if you lived as a tanner, in an Orthodox community, you had to live outside the city. Peter, in staying in this room, was becoming “unclean” himself. That is difficult for a guy who has been raised all his life in Orthodox Judaism saying, “Stay away from tanners. Don’t go near them.” Now he is staying several days in the house of Simon the tanner.

Do you see what God is doing? God is beginning to break down his prejudices, his biases, so he can, ultimately, do a greater miracle work, and we will see that in the story of Cornelius.

Prejudice and bias is crushing to any ministry. There is no place in the work of God’s Kingdom for a belittling attitude toward others of different races, nationality, toward women; no place for economic snobbery in Jesus’ church. God has broken down the walls of race, gender, economic status, and I believe that God wants each one of us, in our ministry, to stay in “the house of Simon the tanner.”

What does that mean? At the very minimum, it means that God calls each one of us, believers, to build friendships and relationships with people, who perhaps, our former biases would have kept us away from. It means we go out and cross those uncomfortable lines in friendship and ministry.

You have opportunities even in this church. I believe as we do Christian ministry, if we are only around the people who are exactly like us in the way we look and the way we dress and the homes we live in, we have become impoverish in Christian ministry and we are not following God fully. There are opportunities even in this church to get to know and become friends with them and we ought to take advantage whenever that door of opportunity (opens), economically. God calls us to stay in “the house of Simon the tanner.”

Are you serving God? If not, I urge you to jump in. You will know no greater joy like it. I would call you to realize, before you serve God, know that God doesn’t want you to serve Him until you, first, have invited Him to serve you.

Jesus Christ said (Matthew 20:28),

“(I have) not come to be served, but…serve, and to give (my) life as a ransom for many.”

Before you can begin to serve God in any meaningful, joyful, way you must first be served by God, served by the Great Provision of salvation, redemption, and forgiveness. God calls you to receive God’s service to you.