Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ministry: for the humble and in need

Ministry: for the humble and in need
S  Luke 14 :  7-23 (NASB)
 7 And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. 10 But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
16 But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 21 And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”

O -  Jesus teaching in these scriptures can be understood from the perspective of whom He was speaking to.  The room he teaching to likely contained His new disciples as well as the older pharisee's and therefore He spoke in a way that would equip His followers, and convict those who struggled to understand whom He was but insisted there old traditional ways were the true way to God.    His teaching here reveals that man's position is to be one of humble approach to God, and that the old covenant mosaic laws were designed to allow man to humbly approach God, but instead it had produced an entitle generation of leaders who used the traditions to exalt themselves and keep those seeking God from reaching Him.    The first parable restores the paradigm that it is better to take a humble approach, and allow God to promote you "for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."   The second parable is definitely pointed at the pharisee's saying the best friends of God,   the nation of Israel has a bunch of leaders who when the Christ came and invited them to join in a major part of what God was doing, the salvation of mankind, they found themselves too busy or not interested.  But those who really needed God easily joined in.    That's why Jesus' Apostles were not the top pharisee's or leaders of the day, but rather fisherman, tax collectors, and common men in the culture.

A -  The application for me is to understand two principles:
1.  Humbly approach serving God.    Man's natural inclination to desire promotion (o.k. maybe just my natural inclination) needs to be avoided, when promotion comes from the Lord it is best.  As the parable states there is much more joy and much less disappointment when we operate in this manner.

2.  Recognize God wants to the reach the poor, afflicted, in other words those who need Him.   Those who have it well for themselves will struggle to recognize God's gifts to them or calling to them.  This doesn't mean rich or well off people don't need Jesus, or that God doesn't want to reach them, only that they will have a more difficult time recognizing God's invitation (see camel and eye of the needle).   Those who are broken, and helpless find it much easier to reach for and depend on God.  In ministry I think we have to be mindful not to be seeking a bunch of happy and content people to have in our church or ministry.  This thought is nice to be surrounded by well provided for and well adjusted people with no problems, but their likely is little kingdom fruit going to come from that tree.   Instead those in need of Jesus most, and the most ready to receive Him, and often times most willing to serve Him.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would continue to teach, mentor and shape me to understand your ways so that I may serve you in the ministry you have laid out for me.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

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