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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Narrow Way of Ministery According to Jesus

About 33 AD

And today, Circa 2014 A.D.
There is an amazing contrast from the weekly pulpit ministry of today and Jesus.
As Jesus achieved some fame they sought to kill him.  But the suited Sunday orators bear little resemblance to the meek and humble Jesus Christ of Scripture. 

The temptation of Jesus bears mention, who tempted Jesus with the highest position in the building?
Matthew 4:5 (NLT)
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple…
Do you think there were no people around to see the potential miracle and show?
Contrast with the popular, author-pastor who literally filled Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in April 2010 with a huge crowd. 
 And we read how the devil took Jesus to the high place in God's temple building that his disciples described in : Mark 13:1 - And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!" 

You see, Jesus could have jumped and put on a great show to impress the crowd below.
-But no,  it was not deliverance from the temptation of suicide that was being offered, it was the temptation to use worldly means to gain recognition..
Every time His disciples or followers tried to take him and promote Him in the eyes of man, Jesus hid Himself.

 John 6:15 - When Jesus then perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain alone.."

 Rather than seeking fame and a large "ministry", Jesus did not use self-promotion so commonly practiced in the church world. Yet even His own family urged Him to advertise and promote His ministry!!

John 7:3-5 (NLT)
and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles!
 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 

 That's right,  His own carnal "brethren" were all for Jesus using worldly means to promote His "message".  
Why did they think in terms of using worldly promotion
The next verse says: "For neither did his brethren believe in him." 

And neither do these self-promoters with their body guards, "faith partners", telethons, appeals for support, and laying up of their treasures here on earth contrary to what Jesus spoke. They are preaching "another Jesus" as Paul warned.

Notice how Jesus refused opportunity:
Matthew 8:4 - And Jesus said to him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Mark 7:36 - And he charged them that they should tell no man
Mark 8:26 -  he sent him away to his house, saying, Do not go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
Mark 8:30 - And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
Mark 9:9 - And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
Luke 8:56 - And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.

Compare Jesus with many famous present day representatives of Christianity today:
John 7:18 - He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: 
John 5:41   I do not receive honor from men.
John 5:43   if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

How we honor the great orators and pretty faces in our day!
But Jesus warned:

John 5:44 "How can ye believe, when you receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?" 

In our church experience it became nauseating to hear the flowery, men-honoring introductions of visiting preachers. And usually those well paid speakers would in turn pay flattery tribute to the pastor. In our old denomination the pastor was exalted and I remember testimonies of the glory of pastor's life and ministry.

 Did you notice how Jesus pointed out the religious leaders would get honor from each other and this would hinder their ability to believe His Word?  
Notice the way of Jesus in John 5:13 (ASV): But the man who was healed did not know who healed him,  as JESUS HAD SLIPPED AWAY while there was a crowd in that place".

Surely Jesus missed a golden opportunity  for showmanship in the style of countless other "name brand" ministries of today.  What Jesus could have done was taken that fella by the hand and skipped him around the temple a few times so folks would know the healer was in the house.
If He wore a tailored, white, Italian made Jewish robe, had body guards, and Gucci sandals, could He quickly attract a vast following?

But He also missed a chance to give a 50 minute sermon to proclaim his "vision for the church" too, and especially the chance to receive some tithes and offerings from the great crowd in the place in order to finance His ministry. 

He was completely unlike the preachers who rarely pass an opportunity for a bit of "seed sowing" from the folks.  Elaborate church platforms and lighting bear witness to who is seeking the attention of the crowd.

-Acts 8:9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip..when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money
19 Saying, Give me also this power.. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money".

Yet today the modern merchants of Babylon have an industry in Christianity selling "anointed" cloths, Holy Spirit Crusades, Books on "blessings", CD's and syllabus’s, impartation, conferences.... the list is endless.  22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness... -Peter told Simon when he wanted to buy a ministry.

In 3 John :9 another character is mentioned illustrating what happens to a man who is lifted up
"I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, received us not.  

Simply put , Diotrephes was a  man in charge of a church that loved his position.
"Preeminence" is definedSuperior to or notable above all others; to stand out .  That one verse should give a serious heart-check for hidden motives.
Acts 20:30 gives another clue:  "Also of your own selves (ministers) shall men arise (be lifted up), speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples to follow after themselves". (making followers of their ministry (teachings-ideas, and words)  

Whose disciples are we/ Who do we seek to emulate?
            Rev. 2:14   "But I have a few things against you, because you have (in the church) them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to set a stumblingblock in front of the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.

The Lord brought  mention of both Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes in forceful terms in this passage.  Let's see if we can apply this word to modern ministry.  Balaam, a messenger and servant of God sold out for personal gain and was impressed by the gifts and status of the men Balak sent to him. "And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honorable...".
Balaam was drawn away from obedience to God by his respect of persons that flattered him, and God tested his heart..     

The Christian "stars" and celebrities of this present world are the idols of God's people.  So often too is the local pastor people seek to follow and promote as the voice of God.

Those who build the visible, man-made kingdoms of "the earth" certainly appear to fill the warnings given to "beware of false prophets".   Put them in their "temples" and you have God's people following them preferring their words and ministries in place of personal study and prayer. 
And the people still continue to bring their gifts, sacrifices, and offerings to the modern idols of stone and wood called "churches".

Compare the manner and ministry of Jesus, Paul, and the believers in Acts, see an honest picture of what real Christian ministers look like. And there is not one flashy, self-promoting, self-serving, glorified one in the bunch. Period. 

Sadly, it is God's people who magnify and enable these men to become the spiritual giants they are. And God forgive us for the "glory-to-the-pastor" testimonies and blind loyalty cultivated in our churches.

 Drawing close to God's Word and Spirit will enable us to take the sword of the Spirit and cut off the head (leadership and influence) of these religious giants so Christ can reign in us.