do Christians who have served God faithfully and successfully for many
years suddenly "go back" on God? A certain preacher has
a loving family, and successful church of over 300 members. But yet
he forsakes it all for a younger woman who is a member of his church.
He leaves his family, his church, his hometown and his God to try to start
a new life because he is so tired of the old one.
WHAT IS WRONG IN CHRISTIAN'S LIVES?
I submit to you that such illustrations as these show a crisis of faith in a person's life. God has a work for all of us to do, preacher and lay person alike. It is not a "hobby' or a "sideline," it is a "work of God." He calls us, he equips us, he empowers us, and he works through us. So why are we such failures? Why are we such quitters? Again, I believe, at times, we experience a crisis of faith in our lives.
These "crises" should be periods of development. God uses two methods to develop his people, "process" and "crisis." Process is slow, sometimes unseen. But the crisis is a sudden turn of events, most times public, that changes the individual forever, for either good or bad.
How many of us have made "resolutions" and "promises" to God and ourselves about a particular area of our lives only to come up short. How many of us have begun good works for God only to quit when the going got tough? The sunday school class, the visitation program, the bus ministry, the lady's work, the nursing home, the shut-in ministry, the mission project.
The crisis of faith is that which either "makes" us or "breaks" us. It is the vehicle that God uses to let us see inside ourselves, let us learn just what we are as Christians. God uses crisis in our lives to build and make us, not tear us down. Why, then, do so many fail during these times?
FAITH IS A PRE-REQUISITE TO OUR SERVICE
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "...without faith it is impossible..." to please God. We want to please God in our Christian service but we attempt to do it without faith, or with little faith. Let me show you what I mean.
RECRUITMENT OF NEEDED LABORERS Mat. 9:36-38
"heartbeat" of God can be found in these verses. God's sole purpose
for leaving us here after saving us is that we would be His laborers in
the harvest. We seem to lose sight of this at times in our lives.
It doesn't matter how big your bank account is, or what kind of house you
live in, or the car you drive. What matters is, "what are you doing
in the work of God?"
II. THE RESOURCES
OF THE PROPER LEADER Matt. 10:1-15
When we commit ourselves to pray, an amazing thing happens. Our prayer turns to a burden and we find ourselves being impressed to serve in the work of God. As God's workers, many times we forget that we are "just hired hands." The responsibility to succeed does not fall on us, only the responsibility to be faithful. The resources that we need as God's workers are supplied to us by our leader, Jesus Christ.
HE CALLS THE LABORERS. It is not our business to judge God's workers.
It is our business to do the work that God has called US to do. Many
times we get bogged down in personalities and personal problems in the
service of God. Remember, God calls the laborers and He is the boss.
We are just his "hired hands."
III. THE REWARDS
OF APPARENT SUCCESS (Luke 10:17)
you begin a work for God, there are two extremes -success and failure.
What constitutes success in Christian work, and what do we consider failure?
With some it is attendance numbers; with others it is the prestige or acclaim
we gain from others.
1. There is a Sense of Purpose (with joy...us..)
2. There is a Sense of Power (subject unto us...)
3. There is a Sense of Promise (even......)
There is a fleshly attraction to all these things. Many ministries and ministers have been sidetracked by these human emotions. Notice that these reflect some of the most basic needs of man. The only problem is that God's work is not accomplished in the flesh. In the next point, we will see the rebuke of Christ because of the emphasis on the "external" things.
IV. THE REBUKE OF
MISPLACED PRIORITIES (Luke 10:18-20)
seemingly responds in a strange way to the disciples joy. His response
reveals a seldom stressed principle of God's word. Why did Jesus
puts a damper on their "rejoicing" about their success? Here we find
the secret to Christian work.
MINISTRY THAT IS RESULTS ORIENTED v. 20a
The problem that the disciples had was a problem that we have in our Christian
service today. We base our success on results. We begin a work
for God because we believe it is in the will of God. We rejoice because
of "good" results. We quit and become discouraged because of "bad" results.
MINISTRY THAT IS RESOURCE ORIENTED v. 20b
But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven, Jesus tells
them. Rejoice because you are in the family. Rejoice
because you are part of the plan of God. Rejoice because God
is willing to use you. Rejoice because God has given you faith
to work for Him.
REALITY OF ABSOLUTE FAILURE (Mat. 17:14-19)
Sooner or later, if your ministry is RESULTS oriented, you will meet with apparent failure. We all have a drive to succeed, to prosper, to win. We want to see results. When we judge our service by our results, we bind ourselves to our own failures.
A SAD CIRCUMSTANCE These were the same apostles that were rejoicing at how the demons were subject to them. But this was a hard case. There were extenuating circumstances with this case. In Luke we find that this was the mans only son. It is certainly a sad situation. He had come to the right place, in the right way, for the right reason. But the disciples "could not." What happens to us when we "can not" ?
A POWERLESS CHRISTIAN We all have times in our Christian lives when we are not what we should be for God. The sad truth is that many people could suffer needlessly because of our lack of power. "...and they could not.." We are finite beings, sinners, poor representatives of our God. There was no reason for failure here. Everything was in place. Authority, power. What was missing? Faith!!!! A Crisis of Faith.
A REVEALING CONCLUSION (Mark 9:22:25) "If thou canst do anything..." the father says to Jesus. Because of the disciples failure, the father now had less faith in Jesus. That is still true today. "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Jesus deals in the currency of faith. The disciples lacked the faith to heal the boy.
VI. THE REQUIREMENT
OF GREATER FAITH Matthew 17:19-21
could we not?" the disciples asked. It was a legitimate question.
We all should learn from our mistakes and this was a situation that the
disciples knew they could learn from. He answered them plainly.
"Because of your unbelief." Christian work is accomplished
by faith, and the disciples didn't have enough.
THIS KIND... There are works for God that require "extra" faith. There are times in all our lives when we need "extra faith." Who knows when we will come upon a "this kind." It was a surprise to the disciples; they were not expecting it.
BY PRAYER.... This speaks of the spiritual
life, the Christ life, the Spirit filled life. It is not enough just
to avoid sin and live a clean life, we must place Christ at the center
of our lives, "not I, but Christ liveth in me..."
.....AND FASTING This speaks of the fleshly life. There must always be a powerful control over the flesh. What is fasting but controlling the flesh? We must, like Paul, bring our bodies into subjection if we would be effective laborers for God. God is telling us that greater faith or extra faith is gained through a self-control over the flesh of man and God-control over the spirit of man.
CONCLUSION: Here are nine principles
that we can gather from these scriptures:-
Success or failure is not determined by the quality
of our work but by the quality of our faith!
TO PRAY FOR THE WORK OF GOD IS THE FIRST STEP IN DOING
THE WORK OF GOD. PRAYER SHOWS YOUR CONCERN FOR GOD'S
HARVEST, AND IS THE STEPPINGSTONE TO GREATER THINGS.
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