Joseph Herrin (02-03-09)
I Corinthians 14:12-13
So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
I Corinthians 14:26
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
Yahshua was given a ministry span of just 3 - ½ years. In this period of time He had great things to accomplish. His task was to full manifest God the Father before His chosen people. He was to destroy the works of the devil. He was to provide salvation from sin for all mankind. He was to impart understanding of the ways of God to those Yahweh had appointed for salvation.
All this was to be accomplished in a period of time which is shorter than a single Presidential term in America. Unlike a President who has a cabinet, and staff, Secret Service agents, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, Military leaders, Congress and hundreds of thousands of government employees to assist him in accomplishing an agenda, Christ was to do all His work alone. Yet so full and productive was the life of this One man that the apostle John wrote:
And there are also many other things which Yahshua did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.
There was no slowing down the Son of God. His every waking thought was focused upon accomplishing ALL the will and pleasure of the Father. Unlike Christians today who live divided lives, Yahshua had a single focus. Christians tend to think in terms of offering to God a portion of their lives, while they maintain the vast majority of their time and energy for personal pursuits. Such a concept was foreign to the Son of God.
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Christ never thought in terms of what He wanted to do for self, and what He wanted to do for God. He had a single focus upon the will of the Father. God is at work to conform His sons and daughters to the image of Christ. He desires that they follow in the pattern of His first born Son. The apostle Paul described the devotion that should be evident in the life of one who was a disciple of Christ.
II Timothy 2:4
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Christ spoke a profound parable to His disciples to give them understanding of what was required of them (Matthew 25:14-30). He spoke of a Master entrusting varying amounts of money (talents) to three different servants and then taking his leave from them. After a long absence the Master returned to receive an accounting from the servants. The one who was given five talents earned five more, and received commendation from his master. One was given two talents, and he earned two more and presented them to his master, also receiving praise. Yet the servant who received one talent went and hid his talent in the earth, and at his master’s return he presented it back without any profit or interest gained on it.
People of God, Christ is the Master. When He ascended on high He gave gifts to His people.
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, "When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men."
To each one, including you and me, gifts were given. Each was given a measure of the Spirit. Each was given abilities and talents to be employed to bring increase to the kingdom of God. When Christ returns He will require an accounting from each one.
Many are like the wicked servant. They have received a great gift, but it remains buried in the earth of their flesh. It is not taken out and used to bring increase for the Kingdom of God, and when Christ returns He will be filled with anger at the diabolical laziness and selfishness manifested by many.
"But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
These things were not spoken for no purpose. What is revealed here should arrest the attention of every child of God. YOU have been given something from Christ with which to bring forth increase for His kingdom. YOU will receive reward or judgment based upon what YOU did with that which was entrusted to you.
Do you even know what it is the Master has deposited in your life? Have you ever looked inside to see what He has deposited there? Is your attitude “Wow, look what the Lord has given to me. Let me immediately put it to work and daily watch over it, applying it always for the maximum benefit, that upon the return of Christ I might present to Him a great increase”?
In Bill Britton’s autobiographical work Prophet on Wheels, he shares a conversation he once had with the Lord. Bill had for many years worked as an insurance salesman. He developed new ways and methods to generate leads and sales. He worked long days, and was greatly devoted to the success of the companies he worked for. Consequently, He received numerous promotions, and his salary also increased. He made a good living and had a nice home and a nice automobile and furnishings.
Bill also knew he had a call upon his life as a minister, and beyond this, he was a disciple of Christ, as everyone born of the Spirit is called to be. Bill was gifted in preaching and teaching, and I have a number of profound writings posted on the Heart4God website that Bill wrote. After some time of being bi-vocational, the Lord called Bill to lay aside the insurance sales job and devote himself to full-time ministry.
After Bill had been doing this for some time, and had seen his standard of living decline greatly, he uttered a complaint to the Father. He asked God, “How come you do not take as good of care of me and my family as my earthly master’s did?” He said the answer He received back from God humbled him. Bill said that the Spirit of God responded back, “It is because you do not labor for me with the same intensity and devotion that you labored for your earthly masters.” Bill knew this to be true. If Bill had labored for the insurance companies with the modicum of devotion that he brought to serving God, then he would not have known the success which had been his.
Do you rise early, labor long and late, and maintain a focus upon bringing increase to your Master? Do you look for every opportunity available during your day to exercise that gift that is in you? Do you cry out to the Lord to provide you with opportunities to serve Him and to exercise those gifts He has entrusted to you? Are you manifesting a single focus, to do the will and pleasure of the Father, or is your life divided into personal time and pursuits, and a fraction of your life which is given to God?
Do you walk in the knowledge that a day is soon coming when you will stand before Christ and He will ask for an accounting of that which you did with the precious things He left in your possession? What will His judgment be of your life? Will He see that you were exceedingly zealous to please Him? Will He have reason to speak words of praise and honor as He reviews your life, declaring all in the presence of the holy angels? Or will you hang your head in shame?
God has given all of His children a deposit of the Spirit. There are needs all around us every day. Stir up the gift that is in you. Employ it for the increase of the kingdom of God. Seek to be led of the Spirit in all you do. Begin each day by setting your mind to exercise the gifts that have been entrusted to you, asking the Lord to guide you by His Spirit and to impart all that is necessary for you to labor effectually.
Recently, I sent forth a series of three news articles, and as an encouragement to get the people of God to stir up the gifts that are resident within them, I asked all to seek the Father to see of He would give them understanding of the parable found in them. Although most who received the post did not respond by taking up the challenge presented to them, I pray that all would stir up the gift in them that they might act as a channel of God’s love and grace to those around them. I know that GREAT blessing is being withheld from the body of Christ because most Christians are not exercising that which Christ has given to them.
When I think of the tremendous blessing I have received from the writings of Bill Britton, I am made to wonder how much more he might have written had he applied a greater zeal and devotion to this matter. What profound revelations might he have received and passed on to the people of God had he labored longer, or with greater focus? How about you? In what ways is the body of Christ being deprived of blessing because you are not fully exercising that which Christ gave to you?
There are days when I am tired. There are days when I spend upwards of 8 hours answering the e-mail correspondence I receive. I have found recently that I must get up earlier and write something to post to the Parables Blog BEFORE I go into town to check my e-mail, or it will not get written.
I too have been influenced by the lazy, careless spirit of the church. I was surrounded by it all the years in which I grew up, and far into adulthood. It is easy for me to think that I have done enough, certainly far more than most ministers who are pulling in exorbitant salaries today. Why should I labor longer? Why should I prolong the hours of ministry each day when so many others cease ministering when they leave the office?
If I am even asking such questions, then there is evidence that my attitude is not what it should be. The apostle Paul labored more than any other apostle, yet he judged it to not be worthy of exceptional praise.
II Corinthians 11:23-29
Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
I Corinthians 9:16-17
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.
Yahshua revealed to His disciples what their attitude should be.
And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'"
Paul could say that he had done his duty. He had done what was required of him as one who had received many talents with which to bring forth increase to the kingdom. Yet the trend in the church today is to fall short of doing one’s duty while expecting praise and reward from Christ on the day of His appearing. Will there not be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth among many as they understand too late that they could have done so much more?
I am reminded of the end of the move Schindler’s List. Oscar Schindler was instrumental in saving many Jews from the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. He was gifted during the time of war to excel in business, and he used what he had been given to preserve the lives of hundreds of Jews. Yet at the end of the movie as the war has just ended, he begins to review his actions and sees that he could have done more. If he had sold his car, he could have used the money to save many more Jews. He could have sold his cufflinks and saved another life. He could have... He could have... He could have...
Oscar Schindler did do much, and he has received renown and a good name because of it. A day will come for all of us, however, when this life is over, the race has been run, and it will be time to review our lives. There is nothing so bitter as regret over lost opportunities, and those things left undone.
You can avoid this being your experience. You can truly stand before the Lord and hear Him say, “Well done, GOOD and FAITHFUL servant. Enter into the JOY of your Lord.” All you must do is live one day at a time, seeking not things for self, but seeking to do the will and pleasure of the Father. Look for the opportunities around you, and do not hesitate to go above and beyond what others deem to be enough.
There will not be a single person who stands before the Lord on the day of judgment who will entertain the thought that they gave too much.
You can live this day, this 24 hour period, to its fullest. You can take stock of the treasure left to you by your King, and ask Him to lead you to opportunities to use those things in you to accomplish His will and pleasure. You can go to bed this night knowing you have nothing to regret. You can know that you have lived this day to the fullest; that you did not shrink back from spending and being spent on behalf of Christ.
You are not promised tomorrow. We only have today to live. Tomorrow will be the same. If you live each day the same, then when Christ returns you will have much occasion for rejoicing at His appearing.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
P.S. Tomorrow I will be posting those responses I received from the news articles I asked the saints to inquire of the Lord about.
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063