The “Ministry”

The “Ministry”
 
A father has three sons and is proud of their future prospects. He boasts to a friend,
 
“Johnny is going into the military, Peter is going into medicine, and Jack is going into the ministry.”
 
Three boys are going into three professions. Ministry became a profession in the earliest days when the well of pure truth was contaminated by the poison of the “church fathers.” People treated the ministry, and still do, as if it were a profession you “go into.”
 
The ministry, however, isn’t a profession you “go into,” neither is it something you “retire” from. Service to God in this dispensation of grace is characterized by two things:
 
FIRST: “If I be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy…” Philippians 2:17.
 
Self-sacrifice is the first characteristic. Ministry is having willingness to be utterly spent on behalf of others. This only requires one thing – a love for people. The Greek word for love is “agape,” which is a “complex emotion arousing appreciation or delight in and desire for the presence of its object, as well as to please and promote its welfare. To be distinguished from affection…which is aroused by the qualities of its object, while love may go out to the utterly unworthy…to also be distinguished from passion between the sexes” (Greek Lexicon and Condordance).
 
SECOND: “You heard of and knew the grace of God in truth…As you learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow-slave, who is for you a faithful dispenser of Christ…a slave of Christ…always laboring fervently for you in prayers, in order that you may stand mature and filled in all the will of God…he hath a great zeal for you…” Colosians 1:7,8; 4:12,13
 
The second characteristic is that a “minister” dispenses Christ as revealed in the rightly divided word. Epaphras wasn’t an Apostle, that is, one who had a commission from God with the accompanying signs. He wasn’t a “pastor” of a “church” who gave “sermons.” He wasn’t a “sweaty preacher” who marched around on a stage making emotional appeals. He wasn’t a guy trying to make a name and an image for himself in the “ministry.” He was a simply guy who passed on truth.
 
Paul says the Colossians LEARNED the word of the truth of the gospel from Epaphras. He personally sat down with these people in their homes, one at a time, maybe ten at a time, and patiently and lovingly went over Scripture with them. Epaphras taught the Colossians about God, Jesus Christ, God’s plan for the future, their role in that future, and how they should live their lives in this dispensation of grace while waiting for that future Government to come. Ephaphras didn’t give them religion, ceremonies, or “church” membership forms, he gave them the Word of God rightly divided. 
 
SUMMING UP: The only form of ministry that accords with this dispensation of Grace is a quiet, self-sacrificing, prayerful, patient, teaching ministry. Anyone who has a hunger for the word and a desire to pass it on can do it. You don’t need eloquence, stage presence, or a certain kind of public persona.
 
Ministry for today is:
 
1. A pouring out of yourself – the only qualification is love.
2. A dispensing of Christ – the only qualification is knowing what you’re talking about by daily diligent study of God’s word.
 
You never “go into” this service and you never “retire” from it. That’s the difference between service to God and a job.
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Philippians 2:12-18

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Genesis 37:1-36

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Genesis 35:16-36:43

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Happy Book Lovers Day! A true holiday for those who rightly divide the Word of Truth

Today, August 9, 2018, is Book Lovers Day. This is a holiday all lovers of God’s truth should celebrate.

We live in a “reading” dispensation. Believers are those who take God at His word. There are no signs, wonders, or apostolic powers of any kind today. The word of God alone is the “apostle” to the nations.

I hated reading when I was younger. I had read only one book by the time I was eighteen – it was a novel called “That Was Then, This Is Now.” If I had known there was a movie version of the book starring Emilio Estevez, I would have seen the movie instead.

But in my late teens I developed a hunger for God. I tried to satisfy that hunger by going to various meetings and churches, and I even tried to partake in “Pentecostal experiences” as I was told these were the way to God. I found out, however, the “churches” were more about building their “ministries” than growing in the knowledge of God, and I was too honest to fake the “Pentecostal experiences” that were supposed to be “of God.” The “churches” and “experiences” taught me nothing substantial about God – NOTHING. If I had continued on that route, my God would have remained hidden behind the paraphernalia of religion.

It wasn’t until I, the kid who hated reading, resolved to open God’s book that light began to flow. Reading God’s Word, searching and seeing, is God’s method for today. This requires patience, diligence, and a love for truth. I remember those early days of searching God’s truth. It was 1990. My wife and I were newlyweds with a newborn baby. Becky worked at Kohls Department Stores that year, and during the Christmas season her shift covered the extended holiday hours. I’d come home from work around six, she’d hand me my baby boy, and then head to work till after 2 am. My son would fall asleep around eight, and then I’d study at the kitchen table till 2 am. From November through December of 1990 I was putting in six hours a night. Here was this stupid kid with a D-Minus average in high school, and who had read only one book his entire life, now reading the Bible cover to cover along with supplemental materials. My hunger for God’s word is still the same to this day.

Always remember this – religious tyrants always discourage independent study. That’s why during America’s colonial era, religious and political leaders hated printing presses as they believed reading breeds rebellion. Religious tyrants knew they couldn’t control independent students -think long and hard about that.

If you are not a reader, I encourage you to become one. I did. Reading never came natural for me. If I can become a reader – so can you. I became a reader BECAUSE I knew it was the only way I could learn about God. I can’t “search and see” if I don’t read. Now I love reading. My love for God’s truth has led to a love of history, science, and any kind of subject you can imagine. The hunger for God’s Word has opened worlds to me.

So I say with all joy —- Happy #BookLoversDay

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”

“To be without books,” exclaimed Ruskin, “is the abyss of penury; don’t endure it.” Books that we own after awhile become actual companions. “He that loveth a book,” says Isaac Barrow, “will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion or effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself as in a weathers, so in all fortune.”

Let the toast be what Alfonso, King of Aragon was wont to say were the four best things of life: “Old wood burn! Old wine to drink! Old friends to converse with! Old books to read!” Sic itur ad astra.

Old Book Smell…“Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.”

—From Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The Guide

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Philippians 1:27-2:11

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