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05 March, 2014

Service and Discipleship God's Way!

As I was reading  today’s Oswald Chambers devotion of March 5, something that I read recalled to mind my post of February 28 entitled “What Is Disciplehsip?” which was a courtesy of the Ransomed Heart devotion book.  I am reminded how I used to find what I thought was joy as I worked for God. This kind of joy used to come with such great emotions of accomplishment and contentment accompanied with a tiny glimpse of pride, all of it was because I was being used by God to reach other souls. Personally, I felt I was living the Christian life. As God started dealing with me, I heard the call and it was such a great time for me. So much joy and serenity accompanied me day in day out as I kept singing “Here I am Lord, this is I, Lord, I have heard you calling in the night.” Once the experience subsided, there was complete silence from God. So once again, I started helping God by trying to get involved in ministry, thinking that I knew exactly what God was calling me for. I had encouragement through a pastor in my Church who wanted to use me in his ministry and he got me involved. Even though I was good at what I was doing, but I kept feeling the nudging of the Holy Spirit. While I could not understand what was wrong, but I certainly felt I was not quite following the path He had in mind for me. But in my stubbornness, and ignorance, not to mention the culture the Church has fostered when it comes to service to God, I felt, it was better to be doing something for God, than to be inactive. 

It was discouraging when God showed me that the pastor was not functioning in the Spirit, since I did not know God better, I still believed that I could make things work. Suffice to say that I found out the hard way that I was WRONG BIG TIME, because God always has a waiting and a training process. This training process comes directly from God and takes us through a period of time in the valleys, or ditches. This training will be directly related through those things that make up our lives, such as financial lost, personal tragedies, life changing moments and so on. Sometimes He uses the result of our own insecurities to get our attention and train us. No matter what, God uses to get us through His University, our soul will always identify with John Bunyan when he wrote The Ebb & Flow of Perception. John said “it seem strange that sometimes God visits his soul with wonderful blessed things. Yet sometimes, afterwards for hours at a time he is filled with such darkness that he could not even remember the comfort that had refreshed him before.”  

I learned through my training process with Him in the wilderness, those wonderful, blessed moments are there to strengthen us and also bless us. It also feels as if God is giving you a bonus, which is an extra dose of grace to see more of Him. The moments of darkness soon after, are there to test us, to work His life through us and to teach us. In those moments of darkness that your soul is soaking in, you have a very tiny idea what Christ’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane must have been like. Those moments of darkness, although extremely agonizing to the soul, build your character, take away your idea of what Salvation is about as your loyalty and understanding shift gears. They make you more spiritual and bring you much closer to God. Best of all, you realize through those dark times, how this Christian life and all that God has put in us through the regeneration process has been a deposit and He uses those moments of darkness and training to impart His life to you. 

The result is that, His life is no longer something dormant in you. You are infused and infected full blown with Salvation as you watch your heart being captured by Him. You know without a doubt that, Salvation is being worked out in you and right before your eyes, every word of the Bible is becoming alive and real within. You KNOW you will never be the same again. You KNOW that you know something other Christians on the sidelines cannot even begin to imagine, unless God takes them there too. Then all of the sudden, those words “FEED MY SHEEP” becomes your mission, your vision, your call, your reality and your very life. No one can take that away from you because your soul KNOWS what Gods KNOWS. Feed my sheep is not just about evangelism; it is not about discipleship, it is all that and much more. It is the Gospel that cost everything to God and Christ, it is a lifestyle and it is for Christians and unbelievers alike.

Christ is no longer a personal savior, He is no longer your master or something here and there. He is so much more as you are watching Him taking over your life as He merges His life with yours. The more He is merged with you, the more you wish He could swallow you up completely so that no trace of what used to be your life would remain. It makes sense because you have tasted something out of this world and you want to become HIM. Through this process, calling yourself His bondservant brings honour to you and it is the best thing you can have for now, until you see Him and serve Him up there. Without Christ becoming much more to us, we go on offering people something that we do not even possess for ourselves. We only have our empty words with our human emotions to convey what we are offering. Without knowing Christ in the depth of your soul and not truly knowing who you are offering to others, you find no problem manipulating people. You feel justified and have no shame in bribing and pushing people toward Christ thinking you are doing Him a service. 

I smiled today while I was reading what Oswald said in today’s devotion. I remember how much I did not understand the call and I was forcing things to work out instead of waiting for God, I was disappointed because I truly believe there was some sort of campaign of service with my name on. I never forgot how God brought me back to reality on March 5th 2006 when I read this bit of today’s devotion. God was talking to me directly as I read “This does not imply that there is a campaign of service marked out for you.” By the time God put the implementation of the call on my life, in motion, I learn, if one did not learn loyalty to His cause which can only be acquired as He shares with one His corporate vision of Salvation, one would easily say no to the call.

One thing for sure, through this training, “FEED MY SHEEP” takes on new meaning because He equips you with the truth and boldness. Here, I am referring to the type of boldness that comes from being broken by Him, not the one that comes with arrogance because we are unbroken.  You gladly feed His sheep His way, because you know Him, then, you know there is no room for compromises. You learn to feed the sheep not with fancy footwork, but by calling things exactly like you see them.  When we do not know God enough, we have our own idea of what it means to say things in love, to a brother or a sister and we have our own idea what it means to encourage others. They come from a worldly interpretation. We translate those things with our own mind instead of the Spirit’s mind. Through the training, you learn when you feed God’s sheep, your loyalty to who God is and His requirements never leave you because you have been merged with Him. So, feeding His sheep becomes an opportunity to glorify God. 

As I learned to flip things around and make it about Him, I no longer get caught up in managing someone else insecurities and expectations. This is the Holy Spirit’s job. As I learned through my training with Him, it is utterly important to die to our own ambitions so that we no longer feel the need to please Him and do things for Him. As we die to ourselves, the Holy Spirit rises up and takes His place to move us to do things for Him. While what I said might sound weird, but it makes the difference between an offering in the flesh and in the Spirit. It makes a difference between what is accepted by God and what is not.  So, besides dying to self, we also need to keep walking in the Spirit. If these things are in place in our lives, then we need not to worry about peoples' expectations, insecurities and fragilities, because everything we do will flow out of Christ and from a place of Agape love. Christ Himself, will set the tone and touch the one who has ears to hear and glorify Himself through it all. 

Sadly, today’s Church model is way too busy doing things their ways to stop and smell the coffee. In a way I understand them, most Churches have become a business and a way for people to rise up in their career path. So, they have to keep bringing money in, and they have to keep bringing more bodies to fill up the pews, at any cost. Through it all they convince themselves God will sort things out because they are working for Him. Christ lived this earth and showed us how it was done. He was never after quantity, but quality. If God was after quantity, then there would not be a need for Salvation the way He put it forth, and everyone on earth would be a shoe-in right away.

As I compared the joy of doing things when I did not know God and the joy of doing things after getting closer to Him, these are completely two different kind of joy. One is man made with our own emotions and the need to somehow pat ourselves on the back. The other one is the Joy of the Lord that is brought on by faith, dependence, love, obedience and living a righteous life before Him for His Glory. It is Heavenly joy that’s why Oswald used the work “perfect fulfillment of that for which I was created and regenerated, not the successful doing of a thing”