Recently, I have been going through a season where I am trying to re-discover and re-connect with Jesus amidst the day to day demands of life in the ministry. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I have the greatest job in the world! I am forever grateful to God for giving me the gifts and the opportunities to serve Him and His people with my life. I truly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. However, there is a danger in loosing that connection, that spark, that relationship… that sense of awe as we lead people and teach people about Jesus each week. You see, as our platform of influence increases, our opportunities to teach and lead increases. As we begin to lead and teach more… our times of listening, being still, reflection, and intimate private worship MUST continue to lead the way. It is very easy for the public ministry to overshadow and overtake the private. The more your ministry grows, the more people want from you. They look to you for guidance, direction, teaching, correction, encouragement, inspiration, spiritual insight, discernment, wisdom, and the list goes on. As a result, we begin pouring out as fast as we can to keep up. It seems that everyone wants what you have and because you love God and love His people, you pour yourself out for Him and for them. The problem begins when the demand begins to outweigh or overtake the supply. When the outflow is greater than the inflow. Just like a car that is running out of gas, there will be a time where there seems to be no problem. Then, a period where we are running on nothing but fumes… but we are still going. Eventually, there will be a shut down. It could be emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical. But there WILL BE a shut down and that is because our public worship and ministry was never designed to lead the way… our private worship should. And just because you may not work in the church doesn’t mean you aren’t in ministry. I believe that we are ALL ministers of the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:20) no matter what our profession is so this article applies to all of us.
I was reading in Matthew today about when the wise men came and brought their gifts and worshiped the new born Savior, Jesus. A story I have heard since before I can even remember, but I feel like today the Lord reminded me of something that is so important and so vital for the health of our personal walks and therefore, our ministries… and He hid it in an old familiar story. (I am so thankful for how He speaks. Nothing ever gets ordinary for God. He is not routine or ordinary. He takes the ordinary and brings it back to life. Whew… I’m having my own private moment here. Thank you Lord!) Anyway, getting back to what He taught me today. In Matthew 2:11, the wise men come to the place where Jesus is and upon seeing Him it says, “they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” You see, their private worship preceded their public offerings. The first thing they encountered was the worth of a Savior. They saw Jesus first… before they began pulling out the gifts for Him. They worshiped Him. They acknowledged Him. And His presence put them in the position of submission and adoration. The position we need to be in before we put that worship on display for the public. Their public offerings were only significant because they were brought from the overflow. The public offerings were first… private offerings of praise in response to the worth of Jesus. You see to me, the gifts from the wise men mean so much more than the earthly wealth and riches that we can bring to God. They represent the worth of the most valuable treasure that has ever existed… our ability to know our Father through our Savior Jesus. There is nothing on this earth so sweet, so fulfilling, so satisfying than His presence in the private because that is where our intentions are the most pure. We must seek after this place with everything that is within us. We must fight for this place as we continue to pour out. We must never forsake this place of private worship and intimate fellowship. This is place where our identity is clear and our motives are pure. This is the place where we are filled and ministered to. This is the place where He sings over us and tells us who He is and how much He loves us (Zeph. 3:17). So, if you are spending more time showing Him your shiny gifts and riches than you are worshiping and adoring His worth here are a couple of things that will hopefully lead you back to that place of private worship.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8
Much like the wise men, take time to see the beauty of the Father through His Son Jesus. Acknowledge and appreciate His gift to us. Take time to know Him through His Word. His word tells us everything we need to know about who He is. It tells us everything we need to know about who we are. And His word will never be ordinary because it is alive and active (Heb. 4:12) and it is constantly showing us how great He is… we just have to take time to look… and see. If you are having a hard time seeing Him and re-discovering the beauty of the Father, start by searching His word. His deepest desire is for us to see Him and He will not withhold Himself from us if we seek Him (James 4:8). “His words to us will always be more important than our words to Him.” (quote by Bob Kauflin)
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3
It doesn’t take much to drown out the sound of God’s voice, especially as life or ministry gets busy. The demands of life can become so loud at times. They can shout and scream over that still, small peaceful voice that is there to guide us and keep us in perfect peace. Isaiah 26: 3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Prayer is how we keep our minds and our thoughts on Him and His ways. Prayer is where we silence the screams of this world and we position ourselves to hear the Voice will minister to our souls forever. Prayer is where we get God’s perspective on our situations and where take our feet from standing on shifting sand to standing firmly on the never shifting solid Rock. Prayer is where every victory over the enemy of the soul can be found. God is waiting to speak to us in the stillness of prayer. It is up to us to place ourselves in a position of hear Him.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:7-8
Paul knew that all the riches of this world or the desires of the flesh could never compare to the joy he found in knowing His Savior. David knew this same joy and fulfillment as he penned Psalm 23. He said, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” David found himself at a place where he lacked nothing because he had all that he needed in the presence of his Shepherd. You see, when we are so focused on the beauty and goodness of our Father, our Shepherd; we are filled. We are satisfied. We are content. We experience no lack for anything. He is enough and if He is enough, then everything else is our gain. When we are filled in His presence and by His presence, we stop seeing all that we lack and we start seeing all the we have IN HIM. We can enjoy Him through His word. We can enjoy Him through prayer. We can enjoy Him through our gifts and passions. We can enjoy Him through music and art. We can enjoy Him through each other. We can enjoy Him through blessing. We can enjoy Him through suffering. We can enjoy Him in anything because He is and will always be enough!
So if you find yourself leading from an empty tank… stop! You are not helping anyone. Begin to see Him before you worship. Begin to hear Him before you worship. Begin to enjoy Him before you worship. You will find that what you see of Him and hear from Him will inform and ignite your worship. As your worship is re-ignited by what you see and hear from Him, your joy will abound. Giving of your gifts will not seem like sacrifice, but rather a privilege and an honor like the wise men. We must always let our private worship pave the way for our public worship.