Friday, June 8, 2012
Welcome to Day 159 of our Life Journal!
Click here for today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 7; Ecclesiastes 8; Ecclesiastes 9; Psalm 18; Ephesians 4 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Ecclesiastes 7:28, “I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all.”
Ecclesiastes 8:12b, “I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him.”
Ecclesiastes 9:2, “All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.”
Ephesians 4:12, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…”
Solomon’s decent continues… It’s hard for me to find verses that are true, more than cynical.
The Scott Translation would say, “We all end up in the same place. Practice wisdom and enjoy life while you can.”
And this thing about only one wise man is found out of a thousand, and not one woman? Keep in mind Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. I process all of Ecclesiastes with that thought in mind. I hear him saying, “I had all these women… I couldn’t trust one of them.” That may have been his experience?
Today, one chapter of Ephesians overshadows three chapters of Ecclesiastes…
I wonder if I say this every day… “This is one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible!”
Today, it’s true again…
Ephesians 4 provides a framework (along with 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12) for the church, how it’s to function, and who is supposed to do what. It touches on what is referred to as the “fivefold ministry.”
It’s funny, when I’m not either leading worship or speaking on a weekend and I am talking with folks before or after services, they’ll say, “Oh, you’re off this weekend?” No… I’m just not leading worship or speaking.
That shows me what people think and value.
It tells me they have a pretty narrow view of what the pastors do.
Our real job is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” Not to get others to do our job, but to empower others to do the job God is calling them to do.
Remember the analogy Paul uses for the church? A body.
“The hand can’t say to the eye, I don’t need you.” (1 Corinthians 12.)
It feels that way sometimes… when others minimize your gifts.
I can tell you this, if I’m hurting, I want someone with the gift of mercy near me, not necessarily someone who has the gift administration… although they may offer to help you in some way.
The prophet will tell you what God is doing in the midst of your hurt.
The evangelist will point you back to God.
The apostle will call down heaven into your situation. (Then tell you about their latest encounter.)
The teacher will give you a scripture.
The pastor will make sure you are cared for.
But the person with the gift of mercy will sit with you. Not try to fix you. Help you in any way possible. Send you a card. Bring you a lasagna. Do your dishes for you.
Keep in mind, any of the above can do the same thing. Any evangelist or teacher could have the gift of mercy. We all have many gifts in different strengths.
I saw this evidenced in a meeting recently. (We have people with these “office” gifts on staff.) It’s fun to watch how each responds in any given situation. Each is pretty predictable, and obvious when it is taking place.
There’s nothing quite like watching someone operating in their “sweet spot” of ministry.
I have always enjoyed training and releasing others in ministry. Whether it was in leading worship, or a Bible study… or giving someone else the reigns at a food outreach.
And little compares to hearing the story of a person’s first time praying for someone out loud.
I have a friend, Gary, who is a pretty amazing guy.
He obviously has the gift of serving. He shows up early for everything. He does what needs to be done, with no fanfare. He works on the back of the truck loading bags for every outreach. The week he is not around is like the earth has slipped of its axis a bit!
You know people like that, too. I could name a dozen more people off the top of my head.
I don’t have that gift. My serving comes from a different place, different gifts are in operation.
My gifts are: Wisdom, administration, pastor, and prophecy.
I serve because I know I need to. “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20, Mark 10.) I serve because it keeps me grounded, humble.
I serve out of love for people. That’s what motivates me to show up, not my gift of wisdom!
When we do outreach, we need lots of people with lots of different gifts.
Hospitality, giving, mercy, serving, faith, healing, prophecy, administration (they make things run smoothly!), evangelism, on and on and on…
It really does take all kinds!
Thank you Lord for the gifts you give! “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of heavenly lights.” James 1:17.