2nd Passage for Study: Acts 11: 19 – 26 … Linked for your study …
My Journal for Today: Same passage again today. Yes, I know; but today, though related to yesterday’s message on “The Power of Two,” Swindoll presents some essentials about doing ministry together which make God’s work so much more effective. And these points are illustrated by the historical story of Barnabas, who needed help in building the church in Antioch, going to get this new dude in Tarsus who was causing such a stir in the Christian community there. And we see the three principles which Swindoll proposes about doing ministry with teamwork being lived out in the tandem ministry of Paul and Barnabas. Let’s look at those three directives.
The first is WHATEVER GOD PLANS, HE PURSUES. It is wise for those in ministry to have a clearly defined mission statement; but even wiser is the reality that the mission statement must be God’s plan, not ours. Our designs on ministry may sound good in a corporate mission statement, but if God is not in that mission, it will only produce marginal results for God’s kingdom – only what WE can do with OUR OWN power. But when God is in the mission and the ministry, with Him providing the power, Godly things and Godly results are the outcomes. God, through Barnabas, went after Paul to build His church in Antioch. It’s was God’s plan; and he needed just the right pair of workers to get the job done; and that is related to point #2, which Swindoll wants to illustrate.
Secondly, WHOMEVER GOD CHOOSES, HE USES. And it is often the case that God uses the most unlikely people to do His work so that when His results are accomplished, God, the Father, will get far more glory than if a human “superstar” were the chosen vessel of purpose. Paul, the wild former Jew hater, was chosen by Barnabas (and God) to go to Antioch. Who would have thunk it?! But later Paul wrote about such a choice of ministry vessels by God, when he wrote in 1st Cor. 1: 26 – 27, For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.
Above we see God using God-led OBJECTIVES and God-chosen PEOPLE. And the final principle Swindoll brings out is all about God-directed PLACES. It will always be the case that WHEREVER GOD SELECTS, HE SENDS. God wanted Paul in Antioch; and He led Barnabas to get the former Saul from Tarsus to go, the two of them, to the place of God’s choosing. If we let God pick the places in His timing, ministry sparks will fly; and that’s exactly what happened in Antioch. Within a year of ministry with Paul working with Barnabas, the Church, which was labeled “Christianity” there, thrived and grew for God’s glory.
And I can really identify - personally - with these three principles Swindoll posits today. About ten years ago, God put a plan into motion which would have seemed quite ridiculous to the world. The objective was to take a recovered sex addict, yours truly, and reshape him into a church elder; and God went on to establish a ministry to restore Christians trapped in sexual sin so that these fallen believers could be productive and fruitful as Christian disciples. Up to that point, no church in America could be found to have such a ministry; but out of those unlikely circumstances, Battle Plan Ministries was birthed. And in ten years of ministry, scores of Christians have walked away from habitual sexual sin into fruitful lives as powerful warriors for Christ; and the ministry reaches out all over the world via the Internet. Who would have thunk it?!
I hope we all come to let God give purpose to our calling and to let Him choose the people and the places to exercise His plan. Because when we do, He will provide the power; and He will get the glory.
My Prayer for Today: Dear Lord, choose the time, choose the place, and send the people. And may You get all the glory You are due. Amen