Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 14, 2013 … Spirit-grown Empathy In Ministry

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 73

Passage of the Day: Joel 1: 9 [in the context of verses 8-10] [NLT] …
  8 Weep with sorrow, as a virgin weeps when her fiancé has died. 9 There is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of the LORD. The priests are mourning because there are no offerings. Listen to the weeping of these ministers of the LORD! 10 The fields are ruined and empty of crops. The grain, the wine, and the olive oil are gone. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Joel, Chapter 1 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 1: 4 [in the context of verses 3-7] :  … [NLT] …  
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 

My Journal for Today: Have you ever felt you were put in a place or into a set of circumstances to be able to reach out and minister to others? Perhaps you’ve felt a clear calling to a personal ministry or to a mission-field to serve God because of your spiritual gifts and the leading of God’s Spirit to minister in Christ’s Name. Well, actually, if we’re born-again in Christ, we’re all called to be the eyes, ears, arms, and feet of Christ, aren’t we?

 If you know the calling of Acts 1: 8 or the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28: 19-20 - two verses I hope you have in your heart – all Christians are called to be “ministers” of the Gospel and missionaries, taking the light of Christ to a darkened world (see Matthew 5: 16). So, right now, wherever we are – perhaps in the workplace, or in “retirement” like me, or as a stay-at-home mom, or wherever we find our selves planted in life – we are called into ministry for Christ. Therefore, with that recognized and acknowledged, how do we reach out and minister in Christ’s Name and for the Father’s glory?

Well, Os Hillman begins his devotional entry today addressing that question? And to that end, he writes, … “ The first requirement for being used by God in the life of others is to mourn on their behalf. We must identify with their pain and suffering. Each of us must be broken for others first.” Yes, Hillman says that the first thing we can use as a prerequisite for ministry is our own experience and empathy for the hurts and needs of others. And he goes on to point out that, as ambassadors for Christ, we need to allow God’s Spirit to grow a heart of discernment (i.e., empathy) for others. And in this regard, Hillman goes on to write, ” What breaks God's heart? ,,, When we begin to answer this question, we begin the first step to becoming instruments of change for those things that are important to God.”

When we know the heart of God and can empathize – from life experience – with the hurts, needs, and desires of other, we’re in exactly the right place and frame of mind to be able to be agents for Christ. Have you ever been in a place where you know exactly how someone else is hurting or where they need to walk to be free from some misstep in life? Maybe it’s a place where you’re feeling, “Been there, down that, … got that T-shirt” and you know the heart of God – from your own experience – to help the person in question know exactly where to go or what to do. You can be the light of Christ in the darkness being experienced by that hurting soul.

That’s what the Apostle Paul was writing about to believers he loved in Corinth (and to all Christians by extension) in the reference passage from 2nd Corinthians 1: 3-7, which I copied for your study above. Paul wanted his fellow Christians (i.e., you and me) to know that they (we) go through the struggles, trials, and challenges of life to be seasoned and ready to be able to reach out and help others in their trials. Paul, himself, had experienced a whole boat-load of trials; and he knew that God had brought him through all of them so that he could be God’s agent of empathy to minister to the needs of others. And God wants us to know the same lesson.

So, as we move out this day as “double-agents” for Christ in a very dark world, realize that we’ve been equipped to reach out in Christ’s Name to be His ministry agents of change. And we need to pray that God will lead us to others where our Spiritual gifts and life experiences help us to empathize and help others who need exactly what we can bring to bear in their lives for God’s glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, lead me to someone today or soon whom I can be Your minister of glory to them. … Amen

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