Ministry is not always easy. Many times, it is grueling. Onlookers can only capture a glimpse of what is put into a ministry. They may not see the initial planning, the preparation, and everything that goes into getting everything in place. But they also don’t see the back-end story—they don’t see the lives of those who are ministering.
No matter what we are going through, we are still able to plant. Our faithful and obedient leaders of the Early Church certainly didn’t have it easy but they pressed onward. They understood that “those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” They trusted that the harvest would come. They trusted that God would use every seed for His kingdom.
You may be struggling today and wondering how you can make a difference. You may feel unworthy or not equipped to plant. Remember that God qualifies you (2 Corinthians 3:5). Remember also that God’s word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Continue to plant the seed my friends. Some may reject it. Your testimony needs to be heard. It may not always be easy. But the harvest will come. Indeed!
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” – Psalm 126:5-6 [NLT]
This is the year both of my kids are in high school. When your children reach high school, things immediately change. They have somewhat figured out their gifts, their talents, their interests. They have selected activities and hobbies that they truly enjoy. It’s very different from the elementary years when they dabble in a sport for a year, only to not want to take it up the following year. I’ve been through baseball season, a few soccer seasons, and even a year of karate while the kids dabbled. Today, my son plays the trombone and my daughter runs. My son is musically gifted; my daughter is a dedicated runner.
Part of the school shopping this year included a new trombone for my son and running spikes for my daughter. They both have gifts in their respective areas, but they needed to be equipped with some items to help them get to the next level. My daughter just used her new spikes for the first time, and it was amazing to see the improvement in her run on the muddy mess of a course this weekend. She was equipped to do what has been placed on her heart.
God calls us each to do something in life for His kingdom. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God” (NLT). God qualifies us. God also places people in our lives to equip us to better serve for His glory. Ephesians 4 speaks of the responsibility people have “to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (v. 11-12 NLT). Today, consider who God has placed in your life. Does God want you to help equip them for service? Is the Spirit leading you to do something to help them? Are you enabling them to stay where they are at, when you could instead equip them for the road ahead? Pray about this.
While growing up, you likely were told never to look into the sun or you would go blind. I don’t remember ever being told not to look straight into the moon. Many evenings, I love to look up and enjoy the sight of the moon. The brightness of the sun is strong. The moon does not let off great light; however, as it’s not shining light, but reflecting light. The moon reflects 3-12% of the sunlight that hits its surface. The brightness and shape of the moon in the sky is always dependent on the position of the moon in orbit around the Earth.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul wrote that we “reflect the glory of the Lord.” As children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, we have the awesome opportunity and privilege to reflect Jesus. How awesome is that?!? We are allowed to mirror the image of God. Day by day, as we walk with the Lord, “we are changed into His glorious image.”
Just as the moon reflects a particular percent of sunlight dependent on its position in orbit, so we only can reflect the percent of the Light, Jesus Christ, dependent on our relationship with Him. If you are not walking closely with Him, if you do not know Him very well, if you are not abiding in Him—this will cause you not to reflect the glory of the Lord. You cannot be changed into His glorious image unless you allow Him to be ever-present in your life. You cannot mirror Jesus if you are not spending time with Him, getting to know Him and allowing Him to break and mold you into who you were made to be for His kingdom. Today, look in the mirror. Ask the Spirit to reveal to you Who you are or are not reflecting.
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18 [NLT]
Did you know you were made for more? Jesus said that we would do greater things than even He did during His earthly ministry. It’s true. Sadly, many of us never step into what God has prepared long ago. We allow our fears to dictate our steps. We make up excuses for not stepping out. We think that others have a ministry, but we don’t have our own ministry. For others, it simply is a matter of not being all in when it comes to walking with Jesus.
Each of us has a ministry. If you think you don’t have a ministry because your spouse is in ministry, that’s incorrect. You each have a ministry role. Each of you have important roles. If you don’t reach out in faith because you believe you are limited, realize that you have the Spirit of God living within you. That is the MOST POWERFUL FORCE in the world inside you! The Holy Spirit with equip you and empower you (Romans 15:13). Simply show up. You have an important ministry.
If you have a list of excuses as to why you don’t do something, consider the reason for the excuses. Are these excuses justified? Maybe you don’t show up to Bible study because you don’t feel like you know enough about the Bible. Guess where you should be then? Bible study. Maybe you don’t help out with the mission work because you feel unqualified. Who is qualified? No one is qualified by their own merits. God alone qualifies (2 Corinthians 3:5). Perhaps you don’t attend church because you feel unworthy. Everyone who attends church is unworthy. We all fall short (Romans 3:23). It is only because Jesus died on the Cross that we can approach God.
Today, remember you were made for more. Reach out for the more. Don’t stand for less. God is a big God and He has big plans. Embrace them.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” – John 14:12 [NIV]
[The Loaned Money: Matthew 25:14-30]
- Also known as the Parable of the Talents
- A talent is a monetary unit worth about 20 years’ worth of wages.
- Talent is useless if it is not used.
- No one is without talent.
- Talents given according to ability – 5, 2, 1
Responsibility – Faithful over little, set you over much – Action is required
Time – Talent – Treasure
- We are to be RESPONSIBLE and CREATIVE
- We are all different but His expectations are always appropriate.
- Talents (Resources from God) + Action for God + Time (Gift from God)
= Profit for Kingdom
The third servant – the evil, lazy servant…
- Hid the talent because he was concerned with safety more than service
- To avoid not doing anything wrong, he ended up not doing anything right.
To be faithful, one must be:
- Focused on Jesus – All about Jesus, growing His Kingdom (Colossians 3:17)
- Founded in Jesus – Abide in Him (John 15)
- Fearless for Jesus – Hope in Jesus = Boldness/Courage (2 Corinthians 3:12)
Bible Study Questions:
1) What was the Master’s commendations for the two successful servants?
2) What did the Master do for the successful servants?
3) The unfaithful servant was described as three words. How was he described?
4) What happened to the unfaithful servant when the Master returned?
5) How do we bury the talents God has given us?
6) How can we discover our talents? How can we use them for God’s glory?
7) How can we encourage others with their talents?
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.
Jonah [Jonah 1-4] and Paul [Acts 27]
“Where [God] is, tragedy is only provisional and partial, and shipwreck and dissolution are not the absolutely final thing.” – William James
Acceptance of God
Paul was all about joy, so joyful to take the message of Christ anywhere – even wanted to build on a new foundation and reach those who haven’t heard
“And Paul said, ‘I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.’” – Acts 26:29 [NASB]
Jonah angry that God showed mercy – Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because He knew God would have mercy – Jonah had a covering from Lord and then it died and he got angry, had mercy on plant but not happy with mercy God showed to those who he didn’t believe deserved it.
“But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?’” – Jonah 4:10-11 [NIV]
JOY OR ANGER
Boldness for God
Both knew what to do on the ship. Jonah slept & kept silent until late – Paul tried to vocalize what to do Are you vocal or quiet?
“Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 [NASB]
SPEAK UP OR KEEP SILENT
Closeness to God How close are you to God? “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” – James 4:8a [NLT] Always moving toward or moving away. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:2-3) – Paul wanted to go to Rome (Acts 19:21)
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 [ESV] “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” – John 14:21 [NIV]
CLOSE OR DISTANT
Bible Study Questions:
[Jonah 1-4 & Acts 27]
Tonight we discussed two different people (Jonah and Paul) who both were called by God to deliver His message. Fully understanding our calling from God requires a lot more than biblical knowledge.
Acceptance of God
1) Accepting God for Who He is includes accepting that He is merciful. What is mercy?
2) How does mercy differ from grace?
3) How do Paul and Jonah differ in their degree of acceptance of mercy?
4) Do you find some people more difficult to show mercy?
5) Read Jonah 4:10-11. What do you think God telling us?
Boldness for God
6) Paul knew what to do on the ship and he spoke up. When is it easy for you to speak up and to be bold for God?
7) Jonah slept and was silent about the truth until he was approached by others. What keeps us from stepping forward and speaking up?
8) Has there been a moment in your life when you kept silent? How did you feel?
Closeness to God
9) Who determines how close we are to God?
10) What are we supposed to call on Him in?
11) What does John 14:21 tell us about the results of calling upon God?
12) What keeps you moving away from God? Toward God?