Devotional Thought for our day:
15 When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. 17 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” Mark 11:15-17 (NLT)
612 Wherever you may happen to be, remember that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. Be sure that anyone who wants to follow him cannot attempt to act in any other way.
I suppose, like many good ideas, the selling of animals for sacrifice and the money-changers in the temple area started for the right reasons. Pilgrims came from all over the world, and they didn’t have the temple coin, and bringing livestock and pigeons would have made the journey e
ven more difficult.
Perhaps the inhabitants of Jerusalem entered into these services in order to be hospitable to help out those who had come from longs ways away. But over time it became a commercial venture, a way to make money, and the ministry to others faded in into the background, as profit and costs took over the ministry.
We see this in the church today, as ministries that once developed to serve people now are affected by significant costs. From the tuition of Christian preschools, schools, and universities, to music and books, industries have been formed, including those which support the other industries that directly “serve” our members. Oftentimes, membership becomes confused with the idea of clientele, where the ministry exists to serve them, rather than to equip them to serve others.
And in the meantime, prayer and worship, the adoration of God and giving as freely as we are given disappear, because prayer doesn’t have to line that can be analyzed in black and red terms. These things are the results of people having access to God, and giving them that access is what ministry has to be about. It is why we are called to serve.
We have to find the balance between stewardship and true ministry. We have to run things well, so that prayer and worship aren’t interrupted, that those needed encouragement and discipleship are provided it. Part of that discipleship is helping people learn to serve others, to care for others, to put others needs before their own.
This too is challenging, because many will hear it as a requirement of being a Christian. As the law which they must fulfill or face God’s wrath. It isn’t, for to do something as impossible as being a servant who leads requires only one thing. It requires us to know the Lord is with you! Knowing His presence, knowing His grace and mercy, dwelling in His love, this doesn’t just enable us to serve, it causes us to, as the Spirit transforms us into Christlikeness.
This is our call, this is who we are, leading people into the presence of Christ, and enabling them to know He will hear their prayers
May we serve well, diligently keeping what should be first, first. Lord, Have Mercy!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2268-2270). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
2 Corinthians 5:19-20 (NLT) 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
“At times, fifty per cent of the work is lost because of in-fighting stemming from a lack of charity, and from tales and back biting among brothers. Furthermore, yet another twenty-five per cent of the work is lost by constructing buildings which are unnecessary for the apostolate. Gossip should never be allowed and we shouldn’t waste our time building so many houses. People will then be apostles, one hundred per cent.” (1)
I did a study a few years back, as our church was asked if we could provide space and time for another church – what would be the third congregation that would use our facility. How much would it cost, what wre the implications. At the time, we still had our elementary school, which was struggling, a chinese afterschool program, our preschool, and two congregations. When we added the third congregation, and their midweek services, it ended up that we were using our facility over 70 percent of the time available between 8am and 10 pm. That was amazing. It made me think- what percentage of the classrooms, sanctuaries and offices are used in our churches and chapels and cathedrals around the country? How much empty time is there?
The epistle reading above, focuses our ministry, our message. And I do question – will we plead with others, on God’s behalf, begging them to be reconciled to God. is that the focus of our ministries, is it the reason for our buildings? Is the message of Christ reconciling us to the Father, no longer counting our sins against, so incredible – we pity those who havent’ heard, and break into tears for those who do?
Or are we so busy fighting among ourselves and building kingdoms, that we cannot focus enough on the apostolate – on the mission, the task given us by God? What would it look like, if only we could be focused on the gospel with our lives, our ministries, our facilities – both physical and mental, both human and buildings?
If we could deal with gossip – and use the resources we already have… focusing ministry where they exist – making the sacrifices necessary… would our church look different? Can we, with Paul, realize the precious gospel
Lord have mercy on us.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3396-3399). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.