Many of us think of ministry as the work done by pastors, by missionaries, by Christian Conference speakers or evangelists.
We rarely think that work done by bankers, by lawyers, by engineers or homemakers can also be considered as ministry.
We have a wrong notion that only those who get their paychecks from a church or other Christian organizations are the ones doing ministry work.
In our message for today, we want to expand our outlook and vision on ministry so that you can view all you do, regardless of your occupation as ministry that glorifies and influences other people.
At the same time, we will look a three things that we value most in ministry.
You see, ministry is very much related to our everyday life.
In fact, our lives should evolve around our ministry.
According to our Discipleship Class 301 notes on Ministry, Christians should minister in three directions:
First, we minister to the Lord through worship. When we worship sincerely, we are ministering to God.
Then, we minister to other Christian believers by serving them through the use of our spiritual gifts, talents and abilities.
Then, we also minister to the unbelievers by sharing to them the Good News of salvation and praying for them.
In the same manner, we minister to the three areas of need of every man.
To the soul, to the physical body and to the spirit of man.
First, we should minister to people's physical needs by feeding them and giving them clothes.
Second, we should minister to people's emotional needs by giving them counsel, advice and admonition.
Third, we should minister to people's spiritual needs by proclaiming Christ and sharing God's wisdom through God's Word.
Life on earth is all about ministry.
It's all about service both to God and to other people.
The Great Reformer, Martin Luther said: "The idea that service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt the worst trick of the devil among Christians. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that the service of God takes place only in the church and by the works done therein.. The whole world could abound with services to the Lord... not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop and field."
This is so true.
When you think that ministry is done only here in church, it is a trick or deception from the devil.
Martin Luther understood the real meaning of ministry.
It is more than just done by the pastors but by everyone else wherever you are and in whatever capacity you are in.
That Greek word in the New Testament translated as "ministry" is "diakona" which means "service."
And our service can be done in the home, in the workplace, in the field or in the church, wherever there is an opportunity.
We can define ministry therefore as the faithful service of God's people rendered unto God and others on His behalf to bring Him glory, build up the church and reach out to the world.
Let's look at this in detail:
How should we do ministry? Faithfully
Who should do ministry? God's people
To whom should we do ministry? To God and others
Why should we do ministry? To bring Him glory, to build up the church and to reach out to the world
Brothers and sisters, that is the entire reason why we exist on this earth - To do ministry work to others.
Therefore, it is not limited to the service of select few appointed to particular offices within the church.
It is for EVERYONE of us, regardless of your age, your sex, your profession or educational attainment.
All Christians are to be ministers in this world.
Our task as leaders of the church is to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV) "11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up."
We are to inform you, to motivate you, to prepare you and to coach you in every level of ministry work so that you will be comfortable in doing it and encourage others to do the same thing.
You see, we live in a very fast-paced, high tech world.
Everywhere we go, we have gadgets on our side such as the i-phone, the tablets and computers.
We spend a lot of time on facebooks rather than in church.
And because of that, we simply fail to recognize that God is very much intricately involved in the details of our lives.
He wants us to be aware and responsive to His everyday presence.
He wants us to be involved in ministry work.
Here in our church, we firmly believe that ministry is for everyone.
When a person has committed his life to Christ and received His salvation, it automatically includes a call to ministry.
Every believer therefore is created, saved, called, gifted, authorized and commanded to minister.
In fact, ministry should be the heart of the Christian life and each has been uniquely shaped for a specific ministry work.
How God made us will determine what He intends for us to do.
You see, we are all part of one Body functioning together as a unit.
If you don't fulfill your ministry, I get cheated and all the other people as well.
We need each other.
If the liver will say to the body, "I want my Sabbatical leave this year. I need some time off. I have been working for many years already. I don't want to serve anymore. Get a replacement for me."
Have you ever heard your liver say that?
You will be so shocked. Then, you say, "I am so sorry, dear liver, you are part of my body, you've got to perform your function.
There is no such thing as Sabbatical leave for the liver.
You are the one to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract so that it will be clean before it passers to the rest of the body.
Otherwise, the food that I ate will not be processed accordingly and I will get sick and the entire body will be affected and die.
You have to do your work, Mr. liver."
In the same manner, everyone had to do you part and work together as a unit.
There was this story one day of a pastor who answered the phone after office hours.
There was a lady on the other line asking about the church.
"We're looking for a church where we can be fed and be blessed," she said.
The pastor answered, "That's fine. We're looking for members who can bless the church."
She said, "You don't understand. We're looking for a place where we can be fed."
He said, "That's fine, Ma am. But we are looking for members who can feed others."
She said, "What kind of church is this?"
Well, this is the church that prepares people for ministry.
Yes, it is good to look for a church that can feed you spiritually, we want that, but it is much better to help feed others after you have been fed yourself.
And this is the kind of church we need.
Not just people who wanted to be fed but those who wanted to feed others.
This will prevent more Christian grasshoppers who go or hop from one church to another thinking that the church exist just for them.
The Bible says that the church exists for the world that is why we are called to serve and minister.
And so, we value ministry work of every members.
But most of all, there are three things we value as we minister.
Today, as we continue our study in the Book of Judges, we will look at the life of Deborah.
She was the only woman judge in Israel during that time when women was being discriminated upon.
She was also a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, who was leading Israel at that time.
She held court under the Palm Tree between the hill country of Ephraim.
The Israelites would come to her to ask for advice and to have their disputes settled or decided.
Yet, God raised her up to be the deliverer of Israel from the bondage and slavery of the enemy.
She took her responsibility seriously and succeeded in leading Israel for many years.
We can learn a lot of things from her life but most of all, we can learn some ministry secrets to apply.
In this message, we will talk about three things we learned from Deborah and what need to value in Ministry:
1. The value of receiving God's call for the ministry. How she responded to God's call.
2. The value of teamwork in the ministry. How she worked together with Barak for the same purpose.
3. The value of building self-confidence. How she looked forward to the result when the work is completed.
THREE THINGS WE NEED TO VALUE IN MINISTRY:
1. THE VALUE OF RECEIVING GOD'S CALL.
Judges 4: 6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoamfrom Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands."
The first thing we can learn from this chapter is that it all started with a call from God to go into battle.
Actually, the specific call was directed to a male person named Barak.
He was supposed to be the next deliverer of Israel.
But Deborah was the one who received the call to be given to Barak.
She was just a spokeswoman for God.
God instructed Deborah to tell Barak to take ten thousand men of Napthali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor.
There, God promised to lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into his hands.
But of course, we read further that instead of Barak personally receiving the call and accepting it, he gave it up and pointed to Deborah to do it instead of him.
Probably he was overcome with too much fear, doubt and worry that he will not be able to level up with that call.
And so, it was the woman Deborah who received the call.
She was put into action and was brought into the limelight instead.
She was given the chance of a lifetime to be the deliverer of Israel and she took it with courage and determination.
The reason? She knew it was a sure victory because the Lord gave the command to go.
If the Lord is for them, who can be against them?
And so, if you desire to be minister, you have to believe that calls each one of us to minister.
This "call" signifies the very moment that you knew beyond the shadow of doubt that you belong to Him.
This call signifies that you have been forgiven from all your sins and you want to do something for God out of gratitude.
You might not have an idea of what it is, but you have to respond positively to God's call.
Let me give you an example.
When the apostle Paul was on the road to Damascus, he received the "call" from God even though he at first did not recognize it.
In fact, he thought he was already doing a service to God by passionately persecuting the Christians and putting them in prison.
And so, he was so shocked when the Lord told him that by persecuting the Christians, he was actually persecuting Christ Himself.
Yet, in spite of that, God still called him and revealed His plan slowly or progressively.
Speaking of Saul, the Lord said to Ananias, "Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel." Acts 9:15.
And so, instantly, he was filled by the Spirit, had his name changed from Saul to Paul.
He had his blinders physically and spiritually removed from his eyes.
He was baptized, physically nourished to regain strength and went off right away to begin preaching to others.
There was no time to waste, the call of God was so important that he made it his first priority in life.
In the same manner, we have to respond to God's call with faithful and active obedience, unwavering commitment and complete devotion because this is the most important thing to do.
So, how about you?
Have you received God's call for your life to minister?
Do you value this more than anything else?
Are you willing to receive the anointing from God and align yourself to His will and purposes?
When you receive God's call, you must be willing to abandon fearlessly anything that does not work towards this end.
He will use every strength, every weakness, every heartache, every success, every relationship and experience you had to shape your hearts.
He will draw us closer to Him and equip us to fulfill our life's calling.
Christian ministry always starts with responding to the call of God into service.
When you begin to say, "Yes, Lord!
However, there are those who received the call yet, try to run away from it.
That is how Jonah received the call from God.
God called him to "Arise and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their wickedness has been great." Jonah 1:1-2.
But instead of heeding that call, he tried to ignore it pretending he did not hear it and tried to ran as far as possible thinking it would just go away.
He tried to flee from the presence of the Lord and boarded a ship going to the opposite direction.
But God chases after Jonah.
No one who receives the call for ministry and try to ignore it will have complete peace in his heart.
And so, God sent a mighty tempest or storm on the sea so that the ship was about to capsize.
All the others in the ship who were with him were brought into the storm because of one man's disobedience.
But Jonah ignored it further and went to the lowest parts of the ship to sleep.
God will not release him from his obligations.
Jonah was awaken and was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a great fish.
There he prayed and learned what it means to surrender and obey God.
He was given a second chance, he obeyed the call, he preached to the people of Nineveh and there was a great salvation to those who listened to the message.
The lesson? Don't run away from God's call.
Accept it and receive it and do something about it and you will not be swallowed by a great fish.
When God calls, there will be no confusion about it.
There was an old joke about a young farmer who one day was standing in his field and observes a peculiar cloud formation.
The clouds form the letters G, P, and C.
He thought about this and concluded that it means a call from God: "Go Preach Christ!"
The farmer rushes to the leaders of his church and insists that he has been called to preach.
Respectful of his passion for ministry, they invited him to fill the pulpit that particular Sunday.
They wanted to know what he wants to say.
That Sunday, the sermon is long, tedious, boring and virtually incoherent.
When it finally ends, the leaders of the church sit in stunned silence.
Then, a wise elder stood up and said frankly to the would-be preacher,
"It seems to me that the clouds were saying, "Go Plant Corn!"
He was probably in the wrong ministry.
You see, you can serve the Lord not just in becoming a preacher.
All you have to do is to discover, be trained and use your spiritual gifts, your talents and all your past experiences for the specific ministry that God has blessed you with.
But it has to start with understanding your calling for ministry.
WHAT DOES THE CALL INVOLVE?
a. GOD CALLS US TO REPENT FROM OUR SINS - Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
This is the starting point of your call.
This is the new birth experience when you make a commitment to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.
You open the door of your heart and make Him Lord of your life.
Repentance from sin is the key to all your service to God.
b. GOD CALLS US TO BRING FORTH FRUITS OF REPENTANCE. Matthew 3:8 (NIV) " Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
After you have repented, you have to show the fruits of that repentance to prove it is genuine.
That is when your character is being transformed into like Christ.
You now love the things you hate before and you hate the things you love before.
Your taste on spiritual things changes over time.
Show me the kind of fruit you have and I'll show you the kind of repentance you had.
c. GOD CALLS US TO LIVE DAILY BY GOD'S WORD. Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[a]”
d. GOD CALLS US TO WORSHIP HIM ONLY. Matthew 4:10 10 Jesus said to him, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[a]”
e. GOD CALLS US TO FOLLOW HIM AND BECOME FISHERS OF MEN. Matthew 4:19 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
f. HE WANTS US TO SHINE OUR LIGHTS IN THIS DARK WORLD. Matthew 5:16 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
All these things are essential in our call for ministry.
2. THE VALUE OF TEAMWORK.
Judges 4: 8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go."
The second thing we can learn from this chapter is that we need to work together for the same purpose.
We had to have team work if we want to serve the Lord better.
This is what we learn from Barak.
His reply to the call of God is "“If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go."
It is as if he was saying, if you go with me to fight Sisera and his army, we can win the battle together.
And of course, he was saying that to a woman - Deborah with no battle experience.
He was so sure that if Deborah is with him in this campaign against Sisera, they would win the battle.
Because he knew that Deborah received the Word from God and God gave her the wisdom and the courage for that very purpose.
You see, the success of our ministry depends upon a deep sense of team spirit and cooperation, working together for a common purpose.
When we are a unified team, we can create growth and incredible power and potential for the church.
A team spirit is never accidental.
It is never random.
It is always intentional, always deliberate and willfully designed.
Team work is built therefore with a compelling purpose in mind.
Team work is created with a crystal clear communication among the ministries.
Team work is maintained by a code of commonly held godly values.
We value teamwork in our ministries.
I went to the website of Rick Warren for pastors called pastors.com and learned the eight values of teamwork in simple acrostic, TEAMWORK that I want to share with you.
You could use these principles in your various Christian ministries and in your work.
T - Trust
We must produce true confidence with each other if we want teamwork to develop.
There are three factors that create trust and confidence in every ministry - Consistency, Loyalty and Delegation.
You see, people will trust you if you trust them to make decisions.
People will trust you if you defend your team members when they are being criticized.
Teamwork means you trust each other.
E - Economy of Energy
When there is teamwork among members, energy is not drained out easily but well conserved over time.
Remember that your team has a life outside of their area of ministry, that is why, sometimes, you have to slow the pace of ministry a bit to prevent burn-out.
Ministry work should be fun and schedule should be made flexible when possible.
Team work means there is an economy of energy.
We need to value our members and encourage them so that they would not get cranky.
To do this, we need to value their ideas, appreciate their uniqueness, commend their efforts and praise their loyalty.
Teamwork means there is always affirmation going on in our church.
M- Management of Mistakes
We all make mistakes and stumble occasionally because we are not perfect and we are humans.
When we make mistakes, it does not mean that we fail, it only means it does not work that way and we had to discover which one will work.
And so, we do not give up, we learn and we get better and we grow.
Teamwork means we manage our mistakes properly.
W - Weekly Meetings
At the Saddleback church of Rick Warren, he said that he had a weekly meeting with his staff who had their reports ready on a small 3 by 5 card with four things in it for them to discuss:
*I've made progress in ...............
*I'm having difficulty with ..............
*I need a decision from you on ..............
*I'm thankful for ............
I hope someday, we will be able to follow this in our church as well.
Teamwork means we meet regularly for assessment and planning.
O- Open Communication
Open communication among members of the ministry will prevent further presumptions or assumptions with each other.
Open communication will prevent impatience or jumping to conclusion.
Open communication will prevent pride or thinking you know it all.
Team work means we maintain an open communication and really listen to each other and learn.
R- Recognition and reward
You see, the more we give credits and honors to others, the more we develop a team spirit of unity and harmony.
Team work means there is recognition and reward among members.
K- Keep on Listening
It means there is constant consultation and learning from each other as we grow.
Proverbs says an intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them. Proverbs 18:15.
We must sharpen our skills and character by reading new books and listening to good sermons.
Team work means there is constant learning and listening among each other.
There you have it, the acrostic TEAMWORK according to Rick Warren.
Let us now turn to the Scriptures.
WHY IS TEAMWORK IMPORTANT?
a. BECAUSE TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE. - Ecc. 4:9 (NIV ) "9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor."
That is team work.
When you allow another person to help you do the work together.
b. BECAUSE WE NEED EACH OTHER. 1 Cor. 12:20 "As it is, there are many parts, but one body."
This is what we talked about a while ago on the importance of individual member for the good of the body.
c. BECAUSE WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER, THE BODY GROWS. Eph. 4:16 "From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
e. BECAUSE WORKING TOGETHER WILL GIVE GLORY TO GOD. Romans 15:6 "6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
There was this story of a man who was lost while driving through the country.
As he tried to read a map, he accidentally drove off the road into a ditch.
Though he wasn’t injured, his car was stuck deep in the mud.
So the man walked to a nearby farm to ask for help.
“Warwick can get you out of that ditch,” said the farmer, pointing to an old mule standing in a field.
The man looked at the haggardly mule and looked at the farmer who just stood there repeating,
“Yep, old Warwick can do the job.”
The man figured he had nothing to lose.
The two men and Warwick made their way back to the ditch.
The farmer hitched the mule to the car.
With a snap of the reins he shouted, “Pull, Fred! Pull, Jack! Pull, Ted! Pull, Warwick!”
And the mule pulled the car from the ditch with very little effort.
The man was amazed.
He thanked the farmer, patted the mule and asked,
“Why did you call out all of those other names before you called Warwick?”
The farmer grinned and said, “Old Warwick is just about blind.
As long as he believes he’s part of a team, he doesn’t mind pulling.”
The is the beauty of teamwork.
When you believe that there are other people helping you do the job, it becomes easier and effortless.
And so, we need to work together for the same purpose, my brothers and sisters so that we can accomplish much.
Adapted from Some Folks Feel the Rain…Others Just Get Wet
James W. Moore Dimensions
3. THE VALUE OF DEVELOPING SELF-CONFIDENCE.
Judges 4: 9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.
The next thing we can learn from the life of Deborah is that we can learn to value self-confidence as we serve the Lord.
It was Barak who had been called to do the battle but he hesitated.
He relied in the help of Deborah.
Probably, he was lacking in self-confidence.
Because of his hesitation and thoughts of uncertainty or unwillingness to go alone, honor will not be his alone but it will be transferred to a woman.
And so, Deborah, in spite of being a woman, had great confidence, went with Barak to Kedesh, together fought the enemy and won the battle.
Deborah even said to Barak in verse 14 "Go, This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord God gone ahead of you?"
Barak was encouraged with these words and pursued the chariots and army of Sisera, their enemy who were fleeing on foot.
Deborah had self-confidence because she believed in the Word of God.
She believed in the promises of God.
She believed in the power of God.
And that self-confidence infected Barak that he developed confidence and courage in battle as well.
Self-confidence does not come from us, but from Him through our faith in Him.
Do you have self-confidence as you perform your ministry?
Do you have self-confidence as you share the Gospel to others?
Do you have self-confidence as you serve the Lord?
You see, people who lack self-confidence will find it very difficult to be successful and happy.
They will be fumbling, always nervous and overly apologetic in their work.
But confident individuals will always inspire their audience, their peers, their bosses, their customers and their friends.
Therefore, it is important for you to always have the right mindset for the ministry, and commit yourself to staying in this attitude.
It is also good to focus on what you have already achieved in the past so that you can look forward to accomplish more for the Lord.
Think about what is important to you and where you want to go and keep on focusing on these.
Then, ultimately, you will be successful and be able to serve the Lord properly and efficiently.
And that is how to develop self-confidence.
Here are some Scriptures on why we should have self-confidence.
WHY SHOULD WE HAVE SELF-CONFIDENCE?
1. BECAUSE WE ARE WONDERFULLY MADE. Psalms 139:13-14 (NIV) "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
2. BECAUSE THE LORD LOOKS AT OUR HEARTS AND NOT AT THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE. 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) " 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lordlooks at the heart.”
3. BECAUSE WE ARE PRECIOUS IN GOD'S SIGHT. 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV) " 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."
4. BECAUSE GOD HAS A GREAT PLAN FOR US. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) " 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
5. BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN CREATED IN HIS IMAGE. Genesis 1:27 (NIV) " So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
Let me close with this story of a shop of a blacksmith.
There are three types of tools.
There are tools on the junk pile, outdated, broken, dull and rusty.
These tools sit in the cobwebbed corner, useless to their master, oblivious to their calling.
There are also tools on the anvil: melted down, molten hot, moldable, changeable.
They lie on the anvil, being shaped by their master, accepting their calling.
There are tools of usefulness: sharpened, primed, defined, mobile.
They lie ready in the blacksmith's tool chest, available to their master, fulfilling their calling.
In the same manner, we are like tools in the shop of a blacksmith.
Some people lie useless: their lives broken, talents wasting, fires quenched, dreams dashed.
They are tossed in with scrap iron, in desperate need of repair, with no notion of purpose at all.
Are you in this group?
Other people are like those tools in the anvil: their hearts are open, hungry to change, wounds healing, visions clearing.
They welcome the painful pounding of the blacksmith's hammer.
They long to be rebuilt, they begged to be called once again.
Are you in this group?
But still others lie in the Master's hands:
They are well tuned, uncompromising, well polished and productive.
They respond to their Master's forearm, demanding nothing, surrendering it all.
Are you in this group?
I am sure you will see yourself somewhere in these three groups of people.
Take courage, wait for the privilege of being called by God.
Respond to that call and work together with other Christians.
Someday, you will have great success in the ministry if you do not give up.