1st Passage for Study: Acts 11: 25 … Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.
2nd Passage for Study: 2nd Cor. 12: 1 – 11 … Linked for your study …
My Journal for Today: Yesterday, from these two passages, and with Swindoll’s help, we were reminded that God’s M.O. of preparation often involves a leader-type, like Saul/Paul, being stashed away in some difficult place for God’s Spirit to mold him (or her) into the disciple He needs to move forward for God’s glory. And today Swindoll posits four principles which outline this process.
The first of these, and I quote Pastor Chuck, “… when God prepares us for effective ministry, He includes what we would rather omit – a period of waiting.” And He does this because learning to wait on God CULTIVATES PATIENCE. Swindoll points out that one seldom ever finds a young, immature person with patience. In fact, in today’s hurry-up world, it’s hard to find anyone with patience. But if any Christian desires to be an effective disciple of Christ, he or she must learn to wait on God; … because to determine God’s will often requires a significant waiting period.
Secondly, again from Swindoll’s words, ”… as God makes us wait, hiding in His shadow, He shows us we’re not indispensable.” This is the period of discipleship which PRODUCES HUMILITY. And if there is one element of Christlikeness we need in a personal ministry, it is humility. We pointed this out yesterday, from the charge of Phil. 2: 5 - 11, for us to have the attitude or mentality of Christ; and we know that this passage powerfully delineates the humility of Christ. So, if we’re going to be able to receive the enabling grace from God, the Holy Spirit, we’re going to have to choose humility and set aside pride.
Thirdly, again from Swindoll’s writing, ”… while God hides us away, He reveals dimensions of Himself and insights regarding ministry.” And this is the process which DEEPENS US. Today, in our world, Swindoll is right. We don’t need more intelligent people or speedier people. We need wise people with a deep calling to do whatever it takes, … especially Christians who have become deep because of a deep and abiding relationship with Christ.
And finally, for the last of these processes which produce more effectiveness as Christians, Swindoll writes, ”… when God finally chooses to use us, it comes at a time least expected, … when we feel the least qualified.” This surprise calling actually MAKES US EFFECTIVE. How many times have we seen it in the great characters of faith we have studied? These great and effective saints, who were used for God’s glory, when it came down to crunch time, they were surprised and usually balked in the moment of truth. There was Joseph when he was confronted by his family for the first time. There was Moses at the burning bush. There was Elijah when we he was confronted by the prophets of Baal. There was Esther who felt so inadequate to lead her people out of their death trap. There was David, when he was “outed” by the prophet for his sinfulness. And of course, there was Job when he finally learned how big was his God and how small he was. And now we have Saul, becoming Paul, seeing the glory of Christ and how sinful he had been. All of them were shocked and felt inadequate when they were called by God into their place and time of purpose.
So, there you have it. If you or I want to be or become effective in a personal ministry of God’s calling, we’re very likely going to have to go through a patience building, humility rendering process, which deepens us and shapes our effectiveness to follow Christ. And it will be a process for any of us who are called out to shine our light of good works which will glorify our Father in Heaven (see that calling in Matt. 5: 14-16). I pray we’re all up to the challenge.
My Prayer for Today: Lord God, whatever it takes, I’m ready to be shaped for ministry. Take me. Use me. And may I respond and go forth for Your glory. Amen