Monday, May 30, 2016, 4:53 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 4 (ESV).
We Have This Ministry (vv. 1-6)
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
If we are followers of Jesus, by God’s grace, through faith in him and in what he did for us in dying for our sins so that we could be set free, then we all have a ministry. God has called each and every one of us to be his servants and messengers. He has given us the awesome responsibility of being a light to the world and the salt of the earth, and to take his gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth. We are his body, and thus we are to continue the ministry he began when he was on the face of this earth. God created each and every one of us for a purpose. We have all been gifted of the Holy Spirit with spiritual gifts which we are to use for the building up of the body of Christ, as well as God has assigned each one of us a particular role (part) within the body, which we alone are to fulfill. So, we need to seek God’s face for what gifts and ministry he has for each one of us individually, and then we need to commit ourselves to obedience to Christ in ministry.
There are many people today who call themselves ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ who are in it for themselves, and who are not following Christ at all. They masquerade themselves as servants of the Lord, but they are self-serving, instead. They follow the ways of man and of marketing schemes, and they utilize manipulative tactics to get the people to do what they want them to do. They are liars and deceivers whose goal it is to feed their own stomachs, but it is not to care for the needs of the sheep. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, so we must be very discerning so that we don’t fall under their spells. They twist the word of God to their own advantage and they dilute the gospel of Christ to make it more appealing to human flesh. They utilize worldly tactics to draw in large crowds of people, and then they focus much attention and money on entertaining the people rather than on presenting to them the truth of the gospel. May none of us become like them!
We need to be truth tellers, but to do so with love and grace. We need to make sure we are among those who rightly handle the word of truth, and who set forth the truth plainly. We need to love others with sincerity, and to seek how we may minister Christ’s love, grace and mercy to them. There are many, many people in this world who need Jesus, who right now are blinded to the truth, and who are following their own flesh and Satan and the world and its desires. So, we need to be ministers of the gospel in opening the eyes of the blind, in turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified through faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ac. 26:16-18).
In Jars of Clay (vv. 7-12)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
When we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation, and we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, we are indwelt with his Holy Spirit, i.e. Christ comes now to dwell within our lives and to live his life out through us. Yet, we still live in flesh bodies. We still have the propensity to sin, although God has delivered us from slavery to sin so that we no longer must live in it. We still hurt, get injured, get sick, and get tired and weak. The flesh still pulls at us, although we have the power now living within us to resist the flesh, and to follow after the Spirit instead. Sometimes we are pulled in the direction of the flesh or of the temporary, and thus we need to refocus our attention on what is eternal in value. We will also face much affliction and persecution for our faith and witness for Christ, and in our flesh we may have the tendency to want to retreat and to give up. Our flesh doesn’t take kindly to pain, and its natural tendency is to escape.
Yet, God has placed his Spirit, his life and his ministry within us, his clay vessels, so that when God works through our lives into the lives of others it shows that the power to change human lives and to minister God’s grace to them, in its various forms, comes from God and not from ourselves. Daily we must die to sin and self and follow our Lord Jesus in surrender to his will for our lives. Daily we must yield our flesh over to God and yield control of our lives over to his Spirit. We must resist Satan, flee temptation and draw near to God. We must seek his face and his will for our lives, and then follow wherever he leads us.
We Have This Faith (vv. 13-15)
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
We are to walk by faith and not by sight. I had a refresher’s course in this lately. My husband decided to retire this year. He felt God was leading him to move back to our home town in Ohio so that he could take care of his aging parents. God prepared my heart ahead of time for Rick’s announcement to me. God asked me if I would leave everything behind to follow him wherever he lead me. I said, “Yes.” A few hours later my husband informed me of what he was thinking. Then God clearly told me to “Go.” So, I said “Yes” to the call. Yet, this meant leaving all our kids (4+4) and our grandkids (13) behind in South Carolina while we moved back to Ohio, which is about 500 miles away from them. Then, the loan process for our buyer for our house hit some roadblocks, so we had to pack our belongings (the ones we didn’t give away or sell) purely on faith, believing that when God says “Go” that he will make a way. We didn’t know for sure if the loan was going to go through until two days prior to closing on our house, when everything was in boxes, and all our arrangements for the move had been made. But, God provided, and now we are back in Ohio.
Two weeks before we were to move, my husband’s mother died unexpectedly. He had been looking forward to the time with her up here, but now that was gone. So, now we are down to taking care of just his dad and step-mom. Yet, we both have expressed belief that God has something more for us here than just taking care of his parents, though that is primary. God has placed us in a high-rise apartment building for people ages 55 and over. We have both expressed a belief that God has a ministry for us here, in this apartment building, as well. There are many lonely and hurting people here. In addition to that I still have family here, as does my husband. We have cousins and a couple of aunts and an uncle, as well as he has a brother and sister-in-law living here. We have been away from Ohio for 34 years, though, so we will have to get reacquainted with many of these family members.
With the Right Focus (vv. 16-18)
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
For the past week, we have been unpacking boxes, taking care of my husband’s parents, getting Ohio licenses, and putting our apartment in order. I have been very focused on the temporary (the apartment) and not as much focused on the eternal, so I realized yesterday that God was directing my heart to refocus on the eternal, and to get my mind and heart away from too much focus on what is passing away. I am a Mary (sister of Martha) at heart, but sometimes I get too much like Martha, and so God calls me back to being a Mary. I like things neat and in order, but if I am too focused on what is external and temporary, I may miss out on what God has for me here in the lives of individuals. I know he has called me here, and he made the way for us to get here, and now I need to seek his face concerning what all he has in mind for me during whatever time he has us to be here. So, you can pray for me to be God-focused and to hear his voice, and to know his will for me here. Thanks!
Draw Me Close To You / Donnie McClurkin
Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend
You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace…
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near