A Holy Spirit empowered ministry continues despite persecution. Now for most of us, the persecution we endure isn’t fear for our lives, but rather petty or cruel remarks made by anonymous people on social media that are just plain God haters. But when you’re bullied or intimidated for your faith it can still be frightening. The flesh wants to retreat, but the Holy Spirit within spurs us on, giving us the boldness to respond with grace and truth. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:6, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me.” The Lord is telling us…”Don’t give up! And don’t allow others to dictate your destiny in Me.”
All ministry needs to be centered around the gospel message. If it’s not, why even do it? From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Mark 1:15 He declared the necessity of preaching the Good News to others, “The time has come, He said. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News.” Later, in Mark 16:15, He gives the Disciples the Great Commission when He challenges them with, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation.” If your ministry doesn’t focus on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Salvation Message…it may be time to reevaluate your motives.
One of the pit-falls of any ministry is that we start glorifying ourselves, not God. Pride starts to push itself in…and soon our ego is searching for the limelight and honor. II Corinthians 4:1 states, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” It’s only because of God’s infinite compassion on us that we have any kind of ministry at all. And it’s only because of the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us that we can act as ambassadors, representing our Lord. When a ministry glorifies God…and not our egos, good things happen.
When your motive of ministry to others is true…it is not only empowered by the Holy Spirit, but it’s powerful… impacting the total person. Your ministry doesn’t just tickle them with feel good, wishy-washy platitudes…it challenges them to a higher calling. The Christian journey should be an ever upwards climb filled with trials and tests that make us better…not a passive, apathetic walk where we are left weak and ineffective for the Lord.
When the Holy Spirit is deeply embedded in you and what you do, the Lord takes great delight. But you also need to remember that it’s about the people you touch, not about the things you think you need to accomplish. Projects are wonderful…outreach into the community, volunteer work, leading Bible Studies, etc. But they only become notches in your gun if that’s the sole reason you’re doing them. Sorry to say, but touching others for Christ isn’t about you at all. It’s about demonstrating God’s love in tangible ways to others and pointing them towards Jesus.
Merry Christmas to you all! As I reflect on this special day…I would ask you one question. In the Christmas story, who do you resemble the most? Are you like the High Priests, who knew the Scriptures backwards and forwards, yet because of pride refused to acknowledge the Messiah when they came face-to-face with Him? Are you most like the Innkeeper, who had the chance to encounter the Messiah, but turned Him away? Or are you like the shepherds, who after hearing from the angels of the new-born Messiah, believed and eagerly said to each other, “Let us go and see!” Finally, are you most like the Magi, who came from afar searching, seeking for answers? Regardless of who you may identify with today…the Lord loves you and desires to be an active part in your life…you just need to turn to Him and say “Yes.”
The wise men came searching from afar. They had discovered that magnificent new star in the night sky and determined it was a sign…a sign of royalty. And so they began their journey of discovery. So what are you searching for today? Peace, truth, comfort, hope? There is only one place to find what you’re looking for, and it’s in the Name of Jesus Christ…for He’s what you’re ultimately looking for. Nothing in the world will ever compare to Jesus and the love He has for you. And just like the Magi, your quest can conclude by bowing down and worshipping the Messiah.
This prophecy of the coming Messiah was quoted 700 years later by the Chief Priests and Scribes when King Herod asked where the Christ was to be born. In John 7: 25-44 we see Jesus at the Feast of the Tabernacles proclaiming that He was indeed the Messiah, only to see the skeptics quoting this Scripture again…but then mistakenly assuming He had been born in His home town of Galilee rather than Bethlehem. But God never makes mistakes…His timing is always perfect…His promises always fulfilled. This long-awaited Savior of the world had indeed been born in Bethlehem for us all.
The shepherds had just experienced the greatest light show ever…more sensational than the biggest fireworks display…more glorious than anything the world had ever seen. Mixed with their awe and wonder was excitement…they had just been told about the coming Messiah. No wonder they all agreed to, “go to Bethlehem and see this thing,(Rhema) the Lord has told us about.” They had been given God’s Word…the Greek word is Rhema…and their enthusiasm was infectious. And after they had found the Christ child, their elation didn’t wane, for in Luke 2:17 it tells us that, ” When they had seen Him, they spread the Word ( Rhema) concerning what they had been told about this child.” These plain, ordinary men were the very first missionaries, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. They had no Theological degrees or advanced education… God’s Word had touched them and couldn’t contain their elation. They were compelled to tell others just as we should be. For the greatest story ever told is the one they spread…a Savior has been born to you; He is Jesus Christ the Lord.
Why did God choose to proclaim the coming Messiah to the shepherds? They were far from the politically elite…and at the other end of the spectrum from the powerful religious circle. So what did God see in that rag-tag group of blue-collar workers in that field outside of Bethlehem to warrant such a grand and glorious display to announce the coming of His Son? In a word, He saw us. He didn’t wish to address the political or religious bigwigs…He chose rather to tell the working class…people like you and me the good news of Jesus Christ. And this holds true today…the Lord Jesus Christ has come for you and me… common, ordinary people who need a Savior.