Priority One

Acts 18: 5

But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

Here is a clear recitation of the responsibility of the minister. This passage just says it so clearly that it is a blessing. And this is what we all want our ministers to do, dedicate themselves completely to the Word.

Before this time Paul was still plying his trade as a tent maker. He came to a point, though, where he realized it was time for him to go into full time ministry. Then he needed to dedicate his time to the Lord and the Word.

It is so very easy for ministers, and especially pastors, to involve themselves in everything that goes on in the church and the congregation. It is so very easy to encumber oneself with good works and meetings to the degree that the special time that should be devoted to the Lord and to His word begins to slip away.

If you are a pastor or minister, read this as a warning. Check yourself routinely to make absolutely certain that you are doing as Paul did, devoting yourself to the Word. If you are a lay person, you have a role in this too. Ask yourself what you and your congregation can do to afford the pastor the time to do the things she or he really need to do. How can you help your pastor? Are there some small things you can do for them like mowing their lawns? Perhaps there are responsibilities around the church that can be shared among congregation members. Ministers, rededicate yourself to your time with the Lord and his word and allow your congregation members and friends to help you in your primary mission.

Truth be told, while this is a great reminder for all of us ministers, the reality is that this is the calling of every believer to some degree.  It is a good time of year for us to step back and remind ourselves what it means to be a Christian and perhaps, carve out a few more minutes for the Christ.

The Way of Wisdom

Proverb 11: 11

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.

So, yesterday was election day in the United States. Job done, right? No way. No matter what country you live in, registering your vote is the smallest part of the job. You can bless your city, country or province or you can curse it. Which shall it be?

Most of us do not understand the power we have as Christians to bring blessing everywhere we go. By our blessing, we are also blessed and this is no clearer than in the administration of government. Whether your candidate won or not, the real job begins now. We are taught to pray for our leaders, “First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. This is good and pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2: 1 – 3). What this means is that we should be praying for every leader of every organization we are members of including our churches. Why? We make our lives a whole lot better if we do. In the book of Acts, “They had the disciples in each church choose spiritual leaders, and with prayer and fasting they entrusted the leaders to the Lord in whom they believed” (Acts 14: 23). These people entrusted their leaders to the Lord Jesus and we must do the same. This would be our spiritual leaders, of course, but also our bosses, presidents, governors, the president of the PTA, the leader of the Bible Study and every other person you can think of who is in a leadership position. It is the Lord Jesus who gives us all the grace to do whatever we are called to do. He is what makes a great leader. And if you are involved in choosing a leader for your organization or for a government office the best thing you can do is to pray. Some people pray for their candidate to win but after the election is over, that is when the prayer is most needed. No matter who wins, they are not qualified to lead. Only Jesus is fully qualified so we need all of our leaders following him. We need all of our leaders blessed and ministered to by him. I don’t care who the person is, it is almost immaterial. The key is for that person be able to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We like to elect Christians to political office but a Christian who does not hear and listen to the voice of God will be just as lost in the fog as a non-Christian. We need people in all of our organizations who can, and will, hearken to the voice of the Lord. If an unsaved person was elected in your jurisdiction, then you will want to begin to pray for that person’s soul. I don’t mean that you should begin praying condemnation prayers over them. I mean you should pray compassion prayers for them. Pray for them like they were your only child. We all need a touch from Jesus. They are no different from us in that respect. Even if the individual is a person of God, don’t you think they will be tried and tested? Of course they will and they need our support every day. By your blessing of them, you will be blessed.

You can speak ill of your leaders or you can speak well of them and pray for them. If you constantly run down your boss, your political leaders and your church leaders, what do you suppose you will get? Remember, words are power containers. You are going to end up unhappy and oppressed. Then who are you going to blame? You are going to get what you sow. Therefore, pray for everyone who in anyway provides leadership in your life. Pray and curse not. This is the way of wisdom.

And while you are at it, pray for me too. It is only when God speaks through my fingertips and keyboard that I have anything valid to say and to send to you, so pray for me and I promise I will pray for you.

Martha v. Mary

Luke 10:41

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one.”

Can you guess what the one thing is that is necessary? It is our time with the Lord Jesus, of course. You probably remember this story. Martha is busy hustling around the house preparing food and accommodations for Jesus and his disciples. While Martha was busy serving the Lord, her sister Mary just sat at his feet listening to him. Martha was incensed and approached Jesus about it so that he would reprimand Mary and make her help Martha with all of the work. Surprise, surprise . . . Jesus didn’t do as expected. Instead he said that Mary had chosen the good part and it would not be taken away from her. I’ve always pictured Jesus shaking his head as he says, “Martha, Martha.” Can’t you just hear his tone of voice?

As you know, last week I struggled with my calendar. By Wednesday morning I was already exhausted from my striving. So, I put down my devotional and just started talking to the Father. He said to me, “Ivey, you are worried about many things. You have become like Martha. Yes, there is always work to do but there is only one thing that is important.” “Wait Dad! Did you really just call me a Martha?” I have always imagined myself at Jesus feet drinking in every word which proceeds from his mouth but here was my Father saying that I am acting like Martha rather than like Mary.

You see, I had allowed all the things I am doing for Jesus to become my duty, my job. I wasn’t praying, meditating, journaling and reading my Bible out of love any more. Each one of those items had become another item on my “To Do” list. I was quickly falling into the trap that so many people do. We become bogged down in the things to do, even those things that we do in service to the Lord that we partition him from our experience. “I’m working so hard for you Lord that I don’t have time for you.” Well, that needed to be corrected immediately and fortunately Dad did. He said to tune my heart to Him the very first thing in the morning and He would fill me and that together we would get it all done. And do you know something, He was right. I had begun to let my calendar and my “To Do’s” run me and they were cruel task masters. Everything became just one more thing that I needed to do and there was no joy left in it.

So I listened to Dad’s advice and the rest of the week I got everything on my schedule done and never once got stressed about it. I actually did more in less time at the end of the week than I did by pressing so hard in the first part of the week. I am beginning to think that Jesus really knew what he was talking about when he spoke to Martha. Just turn your face to him, the one important matter, and he will make everything else work for you.

This is the way Jesus walked in the earth. He began his day by tuning into the Father and then he just stayed in that connectedness all day. Isn’t this what we all want, to learn to walk in the earth the way Jesus did? Well, it begins by just starting your day connecting with your spirit and with the Spirit inside of you. Now my calendar is a good, stable structure for my day but it isn’t my Lord. God leads me through my schedule one step at a time and I am able to maintain that sense of calm that comes from the Holy Spirit.

There is only one thing that is needful and that is our time with the Lord. If your devotion is becoming an idol instead of worship, move it to the side for a day. If your prayers are a duty rather than a joyful meeting with your best friend, then change gears. When you do, Father will restore the joy and the anointing to those things. No matter what you have to do in a day, begin it with the lord in personal communion with him and I believe you will find your days flowing much more smoothly.