Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seasons of Ministry





Scripture

And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;
(Acts 18:9 NASB)
for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”
(Acts 18:10 NASB)
And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
(Acts 18:11 NASB)

 

Observation


Paul had many ups and downs in his life and ministry. When he arrived in Corinth he worked for a period of time as a tent-maker, supporting himself so that he could share the news about Jesus. After a while his companions arrived and they were able to support him so that he could work full-time preaching. This is what he did and yet, he was constantly under attack. The Lord came to him and spoke to him telling him that no longer did he need to be on his guard. He could now freely go on speaking. He didn't need to be silent because he was not going to be harmed. He obeyed and trusted God and was able to settle in for a year and a half, providing a great time of discipleship and teaching among the people there.

 

Application


For all of us who are followers of Christ there are seasons in our lives when we may be called to have different responsibilities. One cannot look at Paul and find a cookie-cutter solution to what serving God looks like. Just some interesting things to note about this story:

1. There were times when Paul had to work to support himself. To be able to move into a new area and do ministry, Paul had to shoulder his own financial responsibility. We do not see that he grumbled about this, but instead, simply went out and found work and did it -- more than likely -- quite well. He allowed his work to also be a place of ministry and it is through his work that he became acquainted with Priscilla and Aquilla. God used the season of work to make a difference.

2. There were times when Paul was afraid. How do we know this? Because now God is telling Paul NOT to be afraid! I believe that Paul had a healthy fear which determined the boundaries of his ministry. There were times when he knew that he could not freely preach the gospel. He had to be wise and discern when and where he was able to preach and/or teach. There are seasons in our own lives when it may not be the smartest thing to be openly preaching the word. There may be times that God gives us a healthy fear and direction to know when to keep silent. This is okay, if it is truly from God.

3. Paul allowed others to support him and his ministry. For a man who could support himself I'm wondering if, at times, it was frustrating to become dependent on others. However, there came a period of time when Paul knew that he was to preach full-time and trust others to take care of his personal needs. I doubt he was rich -- but his needs were met. He knew that this period of time was for teaching of new believers and he poured himself out to them.

4. Paul discipled the new believers, teaching them for a year and a half. There were times in Paul's ministry when he was an itinerant preacher -- going from place to place preaching the word of God. Then, there were times, like this, when he was to simply stay in one place and teach the people there what they needed to know about walking as a follower of Christ.

If we believe like Martin Luther in the "priesthood of all believers" and the calling of all believers to do ministry then everyone can find themselves somewhere in Paul's story. The point is, there is not a "right" place in Paul's story. Too often we are looking for the "right" way to do things when in reality there are many ways and many seasons into which God may be calling us. Maybe right now we are to be silent and ask for God's discerning what he desires from us. Maybe we are to be engaged full-time in the ministry and trust God and others to care for our needs. Or maybe we're supposed to go out and get a job and allow God to use that for us to reach people who desperately need him. Whatever the place in life, God knows where we are and we are simply to be obedient in whatever our circumstance. Obedience and knowing Christ are the key, the results are up to him!

 

Prayer


Lord, please help me to be obedient to you and your leading and calling in my life today. Amen.

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