"But Samuel ministered before The Lord even as a child, wearing a linen ephod."-1 Samuel 2:18, NKJV
Life can be so busy sometimes, but even in the midst of our hectic schedules we need to make time to minister to the Lord. Just like we need to charge our mobile phones after hours of use by plugging them into an outlet likewise we need to plug into the presence of God daily to remain effective witnesses for Him. After all, how can I witness for someone that I either vaguely know or don't know at all?
Ministering to the Lord requires that we remain in a position of true humility for without humility it is impossible for us to acknowledge our daily need for God's presence. As we minister unto the Lord our priorities are set in a proper order. Out of this mindset Christ in Matthew 26:39 was able to say, "not as I will, but as you will." As my heart becomes aligned with His will then I will find myself moving into a greater place of intimacy with God where he can trust me with the secrets of His heart and where even greater degrees of His love can be expressed towards me. That's the favor of God!
Your motive is no longer centered around trying get stuff from Him, but your only aim is to give yourself completely to Him. Today, begin setting aside some time for you and God to commune with each other. As the late Ruth Ward Heflin used to say, "Praise until worship comes. Worship until the glory comes, then just bask and soak in the glory."
Today I received some bad news, but I refuse to allow life's bad news to overshadow God's good news. As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I've learned that we are not exempt from having rough days, but because we are in relationship with God we can still have hope that God's good intentions will ultimately manifest in our lives. In John 16:33 Jesus said, "And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” Did you see that? Everything that Christ taught is so that we can navigate and overcome those rough moments that will occur.
I wish that Christians were exempt from struggle, heartache and pain, but we're not. What we do have is hope. Hope gives us the drive to keep moving forward when circumstances reflect otherwise. Hope causes us to continually declare, "By the stripes on Jesus' body I am healed!" when you have just left the doctor's office and have been given bad news regarding your health with worsening symptoms Hope gives you a vision of a restored family after years of disunity and dysfunction. Hope is a powerful force in the life of the believer because it's gives birth to the manifestation of your faith (see Hebrews 11).
Today refuse to embrace discouragement. Decide to move forward and persevere regardless of the external circumstances that may seem more real to you right now than your faith in God. Look for someone else that you can impart hope into and watch God refresh you while you minister to the them. Breakthrough is right around the corner. Expect a miracle today. You have the opportunity to flourish in the midst of adversity.
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”-1 Corinthians 11:1
We live in very interesting times. This generation is growing tired of the Christian form of hero worship that makes superstars out of preachers because these “heroes” constantly disappoint us by failing to live up to perceived expectations. This disenchantment with the examples of Christians is one of the reasons why more and more Gen Zers (those born 1999-2015) are choosing to reject Christianity and in some extremes they are rejecting God all together. Barna group research indicates that 23% of non-christian Gen Zers say that Christian hypocrisy is a barrier preventing them from embracing the faith (https://www.barna.com/research/gen-z-questions-answered).
Paul knew that he alone could not provide an adequate enough example to those that he was leading, but Jesus could and as he followed Jesus they would be encouraged to imitate Jesus more and imitate Paul less. He wasn’t offended by that, but he encouraged it. If we were to point people back to the example of Jesus and authentically demonstrate our own personal pursuit of the Christ-life then the world would see that Jesus is who we are trying to measure up to(see Ephesians 4:13). As we practice this there will be failures, but because of what Christ has done and is continually doing in us we should not park by our failures or allow them to define us.
This is by all means a faith walk. We are relying on God not ourselves. As walk out your faith in Christ’s finished work remember Hebrews 12:2, “[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity](Amplified Bible).” I remember when I ran track in high school I would always get tired faster when I looked around the track while running than I did when I focused on the goal of the race that I was in. We not competing with each other but we are running together encouraging each other to be like Jesus Christ. Stay focused on Jesus.
“You will be firmly established in righteousness: You will be far from [even the thought of] oppression, for you will not fear, And from terror, for it will not come near you. "If anyone fiercely attacks you it will not be from Me. Whoever attacks you will fall because of you.”-Isaiah 54:14-15(Amplified Bible)
God has got your back. Regardless of the situations that you are facing right now, I want you to know that God has got your back and he is giving you breakthrough at this time in your life. The major factor that will enable you to receive is faith. Jesus said it best in Mark 5:36, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”
You’ll always face this internal conflict between faith and doubt where you want to believe and expect God’s good intentions for your life, but the external facts and the voices of others will affect your reasoning and cause you to doubt whether a breakthrough is really your portion from the Lord. However, remember what God spoke through Isaiah during a pivotal moment in Israel’s history when life didn’t resemble the prophetic promise, “In righteousness, you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.” I’m pretty sure Isaiah had hecklers that said, “C’mon man we’re facing a major threat to our nation’s future so don’t go getting people’s hopes up.” What those people don’t understand is that the prophetic word is often released at times like this when what people need the most is an infusion of fresh hope to combat the oppression of their circumstances.
I want to encourage you right now. God has arranged for your breakthrough. You said of your trouble, “God sent this to strengthen my faith.” However, your trouble is not from the Lord it is from the devil. The devil’s goal was to get you to agree with the oppression and fear that has troubled your heart so that in accepting them you would then be identified with them, but this is not God’s will for you. Breakthrough the barriers of fear and oppression by identifying with the Christ in you because there is no place for them in your life. God desires that you would receive hope infusions so that you can dispense hope to others. You are victorious over not just somethings, but over everything that would try to oppose your destiny in God. Remember Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; And every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This [peace, righteousness, security, and triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And this is their vindication from Me," says the Lord.”
“REJOICE IN the Lord, O you [uncompromisingly] righteous [you upright in right standing with God]; for praise is becoming and appropriate for those who are upright [in heart].” -Psalm 33:1, Amplified Bible
It’s a great day to be alive today! I may not hear the birds singing like a scene from a Disney movie, but I am happy that I have another opportunity to experience God’s goodness. Even though things may not always look like I desire I’ve learned to be grateful for the days I have here on earth. Does your perspective on life lead you to offer praises to God or complain to God?
If your perspective leads to do what is not “appropriate for those who are upright in heart” then you must seriously correct your view because the rest of the world is watching you to see if you are just another hypocritical, complaining Christian whose eyes are focused more on your problems than God’s promises. Remember you are the best advertisement that God has in the earth so make sure you’re sending the right message. Make sure you take time out to give God praise everyday because he is truly worthy of it and he’s likes the sound of your praise.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1, 2 NLT)
Recently while reading Matthew 2:11 I began to think about the lifestyle of worship that God deserves from us. The Lord highlighted to me that when the wise men presented their gifts to Christ they presented to him gifts of value because that’s what he deserved. After all that God has done for us in Christ why are many still not giving him the worship that he deserves, but only what is convenient?
Paul told the Romans that the most valuable sacrifice that they could present to God was not a goat, lamb or any other animal under the Mosaic system, but it was themselves. As they engaged in this act of surrender then they would suddenly come into agreement with the will of God for their lives and live it out on purpose. Since childhood I’ve always been amazed by the number of ministers who share that when God called them into ministry they told him “No.” Really? So have you been acting involuntarily this whole time? No you haven’t because God has so designed mankind that he must have our consent to utilize our abilities in his employ. It probably would be easier for him to do things by force, but he feels better when you act out of a genuine love for him instead.
Today you must come to recognize that the will of God is clearly communicated to the surrendered heart that offers no resistance. So if you’re trying to figure out what the will of God is for your life without surrendering your heart then you can expect to still be in the process of trying to figure out until you submit. James teaches that we must “Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you people who can’t make up your mind (JAMES 4:7, 8 CEV-EN).” Live a life of worship consistently offering God the only gift of the highest value: YOU!
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1 ESV)
Right now I want you examine your love walk. How do you respond to the failings of others considered to be weaker than yourself? Do you self-righteously gloat when someone fails to measure up to your standards? Do you administer strong doses of condemnation making them feel increasingly guilty for what they have done?
Paul in this text charges the spiritually mature with the task of ministering strength to those who are still struggling with sinful behaviors and actions. Whether you realize it or not even in light of the finished work of Christ on the cross there are still believers who miss the mark sometimes and need the assistance of their brothers and sisters as they walk out their deliverance. However, the pride of some prevents them from demonstrating the love of God towards these “weaker” individuals because in their eyes the “weaker” ones should know better. This mindset is a clear indicator that their love hasn’t been perfected in line with the principle that states, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8 ESV)."
If we are to achieve maximum impact as the Body of Christ globally then we must begin to walk in the love which Jesus said would identify his disciples (John 13:35). The unbelieving world is watching us to see how we respond when another Christian has a moment of weakness and for the most part they have observed a lot of inconsistencies between what we say the bible teaches and what we have done. From this day forward make the commitment to true agape love and not the fickle human love that is all about you. After all, if you were the weak one how would want someone to respond?
Steve Tolbert is an emerging revivalist who is passionate about drawing people closer to God.