Summary: This message was delivered by Pastor Terry at the 2008 Nations Network of Ministers Conference. In this encouragement to Pastors and church leaders, Pastor Terry reminds us of the key ingredient to successful ministry - Love!
A young man called on Watchman Nee on day distressed and fearful that he was losing his salvation. “I pray and pray to be faithful to Christ” he cried, “yet I continue to do the most displeasing things”. As if not responding to the young man at all Nee said “see that dog lying at my feet? He is the most obedient pet you’ll ever see, he seldom barks, he is house broke, he is happy all the time; he demands little and loves much. In the other room is my infant son. He cries often, he soils himself, spits up and cries some more. At his age he demands a lot and seems to love little yet who do you think will inherit my estate; My dog or my son?
The response seems to you and I like a no-brainer yet how many people do you know struggle with living up to grace?
Consider this thought with me:
Most will never be able to grasp the freedom of Grace until they experience it from you.
Do I offer sincere forgiveness when it’s requested?
Do I show love toward the one who wrongs me?
How do I respond to when my expectations are not met?
John Maxwell tells of a pastor friend of his many years ago who always complained about the congregation he served. After a month or two at a new church he would call John and say “I can’t get these people to do anything. They’re just a bunch of pin-heads”. Appointment after appointment the same conversation would be held. Finally John says there came a day when he had to have one of those heart to heart / pastor to pastor talks and asked the question “after all these church appointments I have to wonder, are you getting a church full of pin-heads or are all those churches getting one?”
Every pastor in this room knows the challenges that come with the Call. Human nature knows no geology, sociology, economy, no gender or race. People are people – or should I say, Flesh is flesh the world around.
I’d imagine there might have been some times when Watchman Nee would have preferred playing catch with the dog than changing a dirty diaper but he knew he was not appointed to raise a dog – He was called to raise that child.
So many pastors get caught in the status trap.
“How many do you have in attendance?”
“How big is your building?”
“How much offering are you bringing in?”
I don’t see that being the question God will be asking us….
“Did you break 500?”
“Did you start 10 new ministries a year?”
Did you love the flock?
When Jesus dealt with Peter on the beach he didn’t say “Peter if you love me, build a big ministry – He said “feed My sheep”.
Can we get so busy building ours that we wane in tending His?
We can if we are motivated by prestige more than passion, by ambition more than agape.
How can you and I serve the Flock of God with unfailing love? By loving them, not out of our natural affections, but from the very heart of God.
• Love caused Him to withhold wrath toward Adam’s sin
• Love caused Him to seek one who would find Grace in His eyes and thus save mankind from a watery grave.
• Love caused Him to send a ram as Isaac’s substitute
• Love caused death to Passover the blood stained doors.
• Love causes Judgment to Passover our blood washed souls!
We have it backward when we think that Jesus was all about love. Truth is, love is all about Jesus. Jesus didn’t generate out of love, it generated out of Him. In Him, by Him, through Him.
Love is the first characteristic of the Fruit of the Spirit, because without it, all of the others spoil and perish.
Love is what motivated Him to create man in His image
Love is what motivated Him to pursue man after the fall
Love was the masterminded of the work at Calvary
Love is what manufactured redemption through His blood
Love is what wrought the miracle of resurrection
All that give us hope comes from the Agape of God and if you and I find our direction, or inspiration our motivation in that love, we cannot fail in changing lives for the sake of Christ.
The verses preceding our text give us a vivid contrast between gifts and love. They show us that
Tongues without love are meaningless
Gifts without love are valueless
Giving without love is worthless
Too recently and too often we have seen dramatic manifestations void of Agape bring controversy and disgrace to the Bride of Christ; Men chasing after their own desires rather than pursuing God’s heart.