Our Priestly Service

… pronounce them clean … pronounce them unclean … (about 40 times in Leviticus 12-15).

The Old Testament priests could not cure anyone, they could only pronounce cleanness or uncleanness. Only God could cure. So when Jesus walked this earth, He showed His deity by touching lepers and saying, “You are clean,” by stopping the flow of blood that made a woman unclean, and by restoring maimed limbs and blinded eyes that kept people from entering into the place of worship. 

Jesus said to His followers—and He still says to us today—“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you“ (John 15:3). Jesus cleanses our bodies and our consciences, and He keeps us clean until He presents us to His Father in Heaven (Hebrews 10:22; Jude 24).

We have been cleansed for a purpose. What is that purpose? In short, it is for our priestly service to our world. 

I find it interesting that the person in the Old Testament who was pronounced clean was then anointed in the exact same ways as the priests were when they were consecrated for service in the tabernacle (Leviticus 14:14-18, 25-29; 8:23-24, 30). When Jesus sent His followers out to minister, He consecrated them with the New Testament mandate, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, CLEANSE those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give“ (Matthew 10:8). 

Not just, “Pronounce them healed, raised, cleansed, and freed,” but “Heal, raise, cleanse, free”!

Jesus has cleansed us AND consecrated us to be His ministers. He has given us His authority not just to make pronouncements, but to actually heal and deliver! 

Are You Available?

Have you ever had someone walk into your life—even if it was just for a moment—and say something you needed to hear? You might not have liked what they had to say, but it was definitely something you needed to hear. 

My hunch is that those timely messengers were not necessarily “experts” in the area in which they talked to you. They may have been a doctor talking about a medical need, or it may have been a friend talking about some health issues. Most of the time our valuable messengers are just everyday people. 

God loves using “everyday people”! 

  • You don’t have to be a trained pastor to minister to people. 
  • You don’t have to be a trained theologian to tell people what you believe about God.
  • You don’t have to be a trained counselor to encourage someone.

You just have to be who God created you to be. And you have to be available. Like Amos. 

Amos was simply taking care of his farm and his herds when God called him to deliver a timely message to His people.

Amos introduces himself as just one of the shepherds of Tekoa (1:1) and tells another priest that he was simply minding his own business when God said, “Go, prophesy to My people” (7:10-15). 

Amos’ name means burden-bearer—he had a burden for his kinsmen. He saw their sin and knew what defiance of God would mean for them. This burden made him available to hear God’s voice say, “Go.” 

“But I’m not a trained prophet,” Amos could have said. “You are telling me to ‘prophesy’ but all I really know is farming and shepherding.” 

God said, “Say what you know.” 

What did Amos know?

  1. Amos knew God’s voice—In this short book, 43 times(!) Amos uses phrases like says the Lord, declares the Lord, or hear the word of the Lord. 
  2. Amos knew his business—This book is filled with language about sheep and shepherds, farmers and farm equipment, gardens and vineyards. 
  3. Amos knew God had told him “Go and speak” so Amos had boldness. 

You can put your name in all three of those places that say Amos. You can know God’s voice through the Bible, you know your “business” (whether it’s parenting, or coaching, or your own profession), and you can hear God saying, “Go, tell people about Me.” 

God wants to use you for His glory. He just needs your availability. Will you be open to being that person? 

Join me next week as we continue to learn the major lessons from that the minor prophets teach us. 

8 Ways Pastors Can Minister Like The Apostle Paul

PreachingThe Apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how he ministered among them (“You know…” [1 Thessalonians 2:1]). This gives all of us pastors now an example of how to minister.

(1) “With the help of God we dared to tell you His gospel” (v. 2). I cannot minister out of my own strength; everything must flow from God’s strength.

(2) The message “does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you” (v. 3). I must constantly allow the Holy Spirit to check my motives and check my theology.

(3) “We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel”( v. 4a). I am merely a vessel that God chooses to use to share His gospel. This must keep me humble.

(4) “We are not trying to please men but God, Who tests our hearts” (v. 4b). I minister only for God’s approval, only for the applause of Nail-Scarred hands. “We were not looking for praise from men” (v. 6).

(5) “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children … We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” (vv. 7, 11, 12).

(6) “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (v. 8). Paul didn’t just show up to preach, but he was in day-to-day interaction with the saints.

(7) “We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (v. 9). My salary should not be too much of a burden for my congregation.

(8) “Holy, righteous and blameless we were among you” (v. 10). My life of integrity adds weight to the message that I preach (v. 5).

May all of us who are pastors live and minister like this!

11 Quotes From “The Duty Of Pastors”

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen has some fascinating insights on pastors and ministers (hint: they’re not the same thing) in his book The Duty Of Pastors. Here are some of the quotes I liked from this book. Remember this book was written in the 17th-century, so don’t let the Old English keep you from discovering the rich truths in these passages.

“Why should any speak where the Holy Ghost is silent? … Where things are obscured, it is a safer way to prove the practice of men by God’s precept, charitably supposing them to have been obedient, than to wrest the divine rule to their observation, knowing how prone men are to deify themselves by mixing their inventions with the worship of God.”

“The lights which God maketh are sufficient to rule the seasons for which they are ordained. As, in creating of the world, God ‘made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night;’ so, in the erection of the new world of His church, He set up two great lights, the lesser light of the Old Testament to guide the night, the dark space of time under the law, and the greater light of the New Testament to rule the glorious day of the gospel. And these two lights do sufficiently enlighten every man that cometh into this new world. There is no need of the false fire of tradition where God sets up such glorious lights.”

“All faithful ministers of the gospel, inasmuch as they are ingrafted into Christ and are true believers, may, as all other true Christians, be called priests; but this inasmuch as they are members of Christ, not ministers of the gospel. It respecteth their persons, not their function, or not them as such.”

“Thus, this metaphorical appellation of priests is, in the first place an intimation of that transcendent privilege of grace and favour which Jesus Christ hath purchased for everyone that is sanctified with the blood of the covenant.”

“Not to lose myself and reader in this digression, the sum is, the unspeakable blessings which the priesthood of Christ hath obtained for us are a strong obligation for the duty of praise and thanksgiving; of which that in some measure we may discharge ourselves, He hath furnished us with sacrifices of that kind to be offered unto God.” 

“That the name of priests is nowhere in the Scripture attributed peculiarly and distinctively to the ministers of the gospel as such. … And yet, when Christ ascended on high, He gave some to be prophets, for the edification of His body, Eph. iv. 11; none, as we find, to be priests. Priests, then (like prelates), are a sort of church-officers whom Christ never appointed.”

“Never fear the equity of what God sets thee upon. No excuses of disability or any other impediment ought to take place; the Lord can and will supply all such defects.”

“God never sendeth any but whom He doth so extraordinarily and immediately call and ordain for that purpose; and that this may be manifested unto others, He always accompanieth them with His own almighty power, in the working of such miracles as may make them be believed, for the very works’ sake which God by them doth effect.”

“We do not read of any such miracles wrought by the prophet Amos, and yet he stands upon his extraordinary immediate vocation, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son, but the Lord took me,’ etc. It sufficeth, then, that they be furnished with a supernatural power, either in, 1. Discerning; 2. Speaking; or 3. Working. … The sum is, that seeing such men pretend that their revelations and miracles are from heaven, let us search whether the doctrine they seek to confirm by them be from heaven or no.”

“There is a general obligation on all Christians to promote the conversion and instruction of sinners, and men erring from the right way.”

“For a public, formal, ministerial teaching, two things are required in the teacher: first, Gifts from God; secondly, Authority from the church (I speak now of ordinary cases). He that wants either is no true pastor.”

Be sure to check out my review of The Duty Of Pastors by clicking here.

The Duty Of Pastors (book review)

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen is one of the influential and powerful voices of the Puritans from the mid-17th century. One of the things that makes him influential is the source of his wisdom: Everything he writes is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. This is especially true for his book The Duty Of Pastors.

Originally this book was entitled The Duty Of Pastors and People Distinguished. As you might be able to tell from this original title, Owen lays out from Scripture the roles of ministers and pastors. These two titles and roles are distinct, although many people want to lump them together. Owen points out that any one who is a Christian can minister to people (and thus be called a “minister”), but there are special God-appointed roles for those called “pastors.”

Owen writes, “The first and principal duty of a pastor is to feed the flock by diligent preaching of the Word.” Indeed, this is one of the main thing which distinguishes pastors from ministers.

Owen also takes to task those in religious circles who would put artificial (in other words, things not commanded in Scripture) barriers for people to answer God’s call to the pastorate.

This is not a very long book, but given that fact that it is older, it is a bit of a challenging read. But for anyone who is interested in the roles of pastors and ministers, or for anyone who wants to know how to support their pastors, The Duty Of Pastors is well worth your time and effort.

10 Quotes For Pastors From “Living A Prayerful Life”

Living A Prayerful LifeAs I mentioned in my book review of Andrew Murray’s A Prayerful Life, this book was written as a response to pastors who were concerned about the lack of effectiveness in their ministry. Pastor Murray called out the sin of prayerlessness as the main factor in their struggles. Here are some quotes from this book specifically to pastors.

“The enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian—and above all, the minister—to neglect prayer. satan knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected.”

“The pastor’s highest calling is not preaching, or speaking, or church visitation, but it is to cultivate the life of God in himself daily, and to be a witness of what the Lord teaches him and accomplishes in him.”

“Here on earth I may expend my time in exchange for money or learning. The minister exchanges his time for divine power and the spiritual blessings to be obtained from heaven. That, and nothing else, makes him a man of God and ensures that his preaching will be in the demonstration of the Spirit and power.”

“Many pray for the Spirit that they may make use of Him and His power for their work. This is an entirely wrong concept. It is He Who must use you. Your relationship toward Him must be one of deep dependence and utter submission. The Spirit must have you completely and always and in all things under His power.”

“When the Lord promised the apostles that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and commanded them to wait for Him, it was as though He said: ‘Do not dare to preach without this power. It is the indispensable preparation for your work. Everything depends on it.’”

“Little time in the Word together with little prayer is death to the spiritual life. Much of the Word but little prayer yields a less than healthy spiritual life. Time spent in prayer with little time in the Word yields life, but without steadfastness. A full measure of the Word and much prayer each day produces a healthy and powerful life.”

“The preacher must come to see that his preaching is comparatively powerless to bring new life until he begins to take time for prayer.”

“All you who long for blessing in your ministry, He calls you to abide in Him. Let it be the greatest delight of your life to spend time with God; it will be the surest preparation for fruitful service.”

“As a minister of the gospel, have you ever considered why you have a salary and a place to live, and so are freed from the need of holding a regular job? The reason is so that you can continue in prayer and the ministry of the Word. These will give you the necessary wisdom and anointing for your work. And that is the secret of a fruitful ministry. No wonder there are often complaints about the ineffective spiritual life of a minister and his congregation. That which is of prime importance—perseverance in prayer—does not occupy its rightful place.”

“The great question is: Shall we earnestly set ourselves to win back again the weapon of believing prayer that satan has, at least in a measure, taken away from us? Let us set before ourselves the serious importance of this conflict. As far as each minister is concerned, everything depends on whether or not he is a man of prayer—one who in the inner room is clothed each day with power from on high.”

To read some of the other quotes I shared from this book, please click here. And to read my full book review of Living A Prayerful Life, click here.

More Ministers Needed In The Church

The church goesI always get a bit nervous when someone calls me “the minister of Calvary Assembly of God.” I am not the minister; I’m the pastor and a minister.

There’s a big difference! 

A pastor is one of the gifts Jesus gives the church to equip lots of ministers (see Ephesians 4:7-13). A pastor is not the minister, but a minister-equipper.

Check out this quote from Oswald Chambers—

“Notice the gifts that the Apostle Paul says Jesus sent after He ascended—viz. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers—‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.’  The test of a preacher or teacher is that as we listen to him we are built up in our faith in Jesus Christ and in our intimacy with Him; otherwise he is not a gift from God. Today we are apt to test the preacher on the ground of his personality and not by his building up of the saints.” (emphasis added)

I don’t want to be put on a pedestal as the minister. I want Jesus to be exalted. This will only happen when all the gifts to the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers—are equipping the entire church to minister.

What do you think?

The Legacy Of My Parents

MustangThis past weekend we celebrated my parents golden anniversary. Long-time friends gathered around the dinner table and shared some great memories of how my Mom & Dad had impacted their lives. Other friends who couldn’t attend sent in letters and videos. My biggest takeaway from that weekend is something I already knew: My parents are ministers.

They don’t have a title like reverend or pastor or missionary. But for their entire marriage they have ministered like Jesus described in Matthew 25: they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, provided shelter for the homeless, and love for the hurting.

See for yourself…

I am so blessed by the legacy my parents have left!

7 Final Quotes From “The Ministry Of God’s Word”

The Ministry Of God's WordI’ve been sharing some of the many quotes I highlighted in Watchman Nee’s book The Ministry Of God’s Word. You can read previous quotes by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. This is a book that I have called a must read for pastors, and you can read my full book review by clicking here.

“A minister of the Word ought to be attentive to how he speaks. The words he speaks must come through discipline, since God creates the words for us through His disciplining us. … How much you can speak depends upon how much you have learned inwardly. … It is more than your preaching His Word; you as a person must be so chiseled and tested by Him that the word which comes out of you is God’s Word.” 

“Let us realize that the minister of the Word must be tried first. Without any trial there can be no word. If other brothers and sisters should enter into trial before you, you have nothing to help them. Even if you should try to say something, it falls as an empty word. What use is an empty word? Word is formed in fire. … Hence the ministers of the Word are those who are chosen by God to be dealt with first, to be tried first, and to know the Lord first, so that they may minister Christ to God’s children. … If we expect to have a big ministry we should be ready to receive more dealings.”

“The Word of God is full of emotion. It should not be recited verbatim in a mechanical way. It ought to be pressed out through deep feeling. … One’s emotion must be so refined that he can rejoice when God’s Word is joyful and wail when the Word of God is sorrowful. His feeling follows the Word of God closely. This is not performance. Please never learn to perform. … The more spiritual a man is, the richer his feeling. … The more lessons one learns before God the more enriched his feeling will be.” 

“A minister of the Word should know that God is building up his ministry through each trial and difficulty. Do not be so foolish as to deem it best to flee from trial. If no thorn, then no grace, hence no power and little ministry. You may speak the Word but you do not possess the strength of the spirit to push it out. You need the Word; you also need a usable spirit.”

“In preaching the gospel, if you make men a little bigger, you make the gospel somewhat smaller. … Spiritual humility comes through our being enlightened by God to a real knowledge of our self, where as soulish self-abasement is the result of looking at man, comparing ourselves with others, and being afraid of men.” 

“We need to take good care of our mind that it may be usable when God wants it.”

“He who desires to minister the Word must learn how to speak simply. … Always remember that God’s Word is for men to understand, not for them to become confused about. … Hence a very important point in ministering the Word is to climb high before God. The higher we climb the more God’s Word is released. God rejects low thought, low-quality persuasion, cheap metaphors or words. Reach high and yet be clear.” 

 

7 More Quotes From “The Ministry Of God’s Word”

The Ministry Of God's WordWhat a fascinating book Watchman Nee wrote in The Ministry Of God’s Word. In fact, it’s one of the rare books that I called a must read for pastors (you can read my book review by clicking here). To whet your appetite I’ve been sharing some quotes from this book.

“This is an enormous task, a task which far surpasses human ability. Every servant of God must realize his incompetency. He should prostrate himself before God, knowing how incompetent he is in supplying Christ, even though he may be well able to speak on the doctrines or teachings of the Bible. Let us look to God’s mercy today. We need to reevaluate everything. We must see how absolutely useless we are. We are utterly helpless without His mercy. To be a minister of the Word is too serious a matter to be taken lightly. It is not an easy task which can be fulfilled just by reading the Bible so many times. A minister of the Word must be able to supply Christ and help people to touch Christ by his words.”

“To obtain a pure minister of the Word God has to so work in a person that his outward man is broken. Hence it is necessary for a minister of the Word to accept the discipline and control of God; otherwise he will surely destroy God’s Word by the mingling in of his own undealt flesh. … The Holy Spirit has been able to work to such a depth that when that man stands to speak, people hear the Lord speaking.”

“Ministry requires our seeing something before God and in freshness presenting this thing to the church. … Each time I minister I need to receive special revelation for the occasion. … Continuous revelation begets continual ministry.” 

“The same message with the same delivery may not produce the same result; only the same anointing will.”

“God never intends to give us small revelations. If He grants revelation, His revelation is big; its scope and content is rich. How can anything inglorious come forth from the God of glory? The normal portion God gives man is a cup running over. God is forever rich, great, and all-inclusive.” 

“Man’s mental strength acts like his physical strength. If his arm can only lift fifty pounds of weight, then he cannot handle anything heavier, not even one additional pound. So is our mental strength limited. If we exhaust its energy on other things we will have nothing left with which to spend on the things of God; and hence we will not be able to translate God’s light into thought.”

“In the things spiritual, natural eloquence is useless. God must give words. … Hence we must wait on God and read the Bible, asking Him to grant us the words. When the words do come, we are instantly assured of what we should speak today. … The greater the lack of revealed words the longer should be the waiting before God. Pray, commune, wait, and lay the Bible before God. This is not an ordinary waiting, nor ordinary prayer and communion. This is waiting before God with the Bible, praying to God with the Bible, and communing with God over the Bible.” 

You can read the other quotes I’ve posted by clicking here, here, here, and here.

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