Ministry; February 4, 2019

Luke 4:14-15 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

This immediately followed two important events of Jesus’ ministry: His baptism, and His temptation in the wilderness. Both of those were essential to what is described here. At His baptism, the Holy Spirit came on and remained on Him. Far too often we get an idea, or even a genuine calling, and rush off to try to do it in our own strength. That never works! We forget that we can do nothing on our own, as Jesus said explicitly. (John 15:5) Even Jesus lived a very ordinary life until He was filled and anointed with the Spirit. However, even that wasn’t enough by itself. The second prerequisite was that He was tested. That’s certainly not something we can schedule, nor would we want to. However, it is the major reason for the “qualifying experience” requirement of most mission agencies before they appoint anyone to serve. (That requirement is sometimes misused for strictly human reasons, but that’s a different story.) 40 days of fasting and encountering the devil directly isn’t something we would aim for or desire, but Jesus needed to be sure in Himself of who He was and what the Father was doing in and through Him. With all that taken care of, He indeed could operate “in the power of the Spirit.” When He did that, it records that “everyone praised Him.” That is in direct contrast to what happened immediately after this, when He went to where people knew Him best. There, as Jesus Himself pointed out in verse 24, He was not accepted. We are not to assume that just because we’ve done everything right, everything will go smoothly for us. If it didn’t for Jesus, why should we expect it? Opposition doesn’t necessarily mean we are wrong in any way, but we should be humble enough to listen to our critics, because it’s possible God wants to use them to show us our blind spots. Still, not being accepted doesn’t necessarily mean we are missing God ourselves.

This feels very applicable to me. My ministry, in the almost 45 years since I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, has certainly been spotty when viewed from a human perspective. I’ve been rejected by a mission board and forced to resign from a church, and the harvest since I’ve been in Omura could hardly be called abundant. However, all of that has shaped me in various ways, and I don’t know how God wants to use me from this point. I keep getting little hints, but nothing is obvious. My point is certainly not to force things, but rather to make myself available for whatever God has in mind, so that all of His plans may be fulfilled on His schedule for His glory.

Father, thank You for being totally trustworthy. Thank You that I know I don’t need to be anxious about anything at all. Today has opportunities for impactful ministry, and from tomorrow I’ll be going to a major Pastors conference. May I be Your agent in all that I say and do, whether anyone notices or not, and if they do notice, regardless of their response. May indeed, Christ alone be glorified. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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