As we venture into a New Year it is good to ask about ourselves: what is going to be the priority in our lives and in our church? One of the very subtle ways in which we start to get things in the wrong perspective is when we put the work of God before God Himself. Things start to go awry when serving God becomes more important than God Himself. So we ask ourselves “Is God going to take priority or will the work of God take priority?” If the work of God takes priority then you are likely to achieve very little and become bitter and frustrated. If God takes priority you are likely to be fruitful in the work of God. Let us look at some passages of scripture to help us here.
Acts 1 and 2: With his departure for the glory pending, the LORD said to His disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). We might have expected him to say, “Listen guys, I am going away now; so get on with the work, there’s so much to do.” No! He actually said wait.
So they were told to wait, and whilst waiting they were praying (see Acts 1:12-14). And as they prayed they had the phenomenal experience of the Holy Spirit falling on them on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-13). With the giving of the Holy Spirit, they had the necessary empowering to serve God effectively. Accordingly, they now flowed out into effective service for the LORD. Peter led the way as He preached the first sermon of the new age. Many were saved on that day and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
We must not fail to notice the order, though: wait – pray – Holy Spirit energises – effective service. We do well if we emulate this pattern.
Matthew 9:35-38: Here the Lord is moving and ministering among the people. He becomes aware of the vastness of the ministry as he saw crowds who were harassed and helpless. Whereupon he says to His disciples: “Hey! This is an emergency! There are so many people out there in need; there is no time to waste.” So He harangued them and told them to get out there and do something.
No! he did not say that and he did not do that. Rather, he told them to pray. He said to them “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matt. 9:38). The scale of the evangelistic task before us in Feltham is immense. However, the Lord teaches us here that we are not to panic, but to pray. And we must pray.
Isaiah 40:31: This verse reads:
“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
The idea behind the phrase “hope in the LORD” is that of continually giving yourself over to the Lord for His safe-keeping. Continually putting yourself in His presence. The people who do this are the people who are renewed. They are the people who are spiritually strong and keep going for God.
The indolent who just say “what will be will be” are not renewed; they fade away. The activists who chase around doing this and that are not renewed. Rather they burn out as the energies of the flesh dissipate.
Waiting on / hoping in the LORD brings Holy Spirit refreshment into our lives. As a result of that we live strong lives which are for the glory of God.
Luke 10:38-42: Martha and Mary both were engaged in activity which revolved around the Lord. Martha was in the kitchen for Him, Mary was listening to Him. Amidst her desire to serve, though, Martha was soon becoming bitter. So she blurts out, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ (Luke 10:40b). To which the Lord replies that Martha only needed one thing and that was the thing that Mary was doing. The implication here is that there was much good in what Martha was doing; after all she was serving the Lord. However, her service was bound to be ineffective, engender bitterness and tend towards burn-out if she did not prioritise waiting on the Lord. She could easily justify her refusal to be at Jesus’ feet; after all her family and the Lord and His disciples needed feeding. However, no amount of self-justification could deflect from the fact that she needed to prioritise spending time with Jesus.
It is the same with us. When we cease prioritising sitting at Jesus feet we will soon become ineffective for the Lord, bitter in our hearts and tending towards burn-out.
So as you venture into 2014 where do you stand in respect of these things? Where does Feltham Evangelical Church stand? 2013 has seen us continue with our weeks of prayer and fasting, expand our Tuesday morning prayer times and introduce our Friday evening / Saturday morning “Revive” prayer times. So as we go into 2014, surely it is good to seek to move forward prioritising the “sitting-at-the feet-of-Jesus” aspect of church life. This is because when we are knowing God more through seeking Him then we are likely to be more fruitful in all other aspects of our life.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of Jan 2014)