Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I was reminded again in the devotion of staff prayer meeting that our Christian lives could slowly wither from within, if we fail to trust and obey. “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" "Have faith in God," Jesus answered” (Mark 11:20-22). The problem of the fig tree was that it did not bear fruits but only leaves. It symbolized how religious people in Jesus times busy themselves with devotional activities, but without obedience to God’s words. They might decorate themselves with outward devotion. But they were actually rotten at the root from within – therefore they could not bear spiritual fruits. In the same token, I may be very active in church activities or global missions as a minister. But without obedience to the Word of God from within, I will not bear fruits for His glory.
"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, coating over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a drive; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis.
What do I really count dear? If I have not been gripped by Jesus Christ, I will count service dear, time given to God dear, my life dear unto myself. Paul says he counted his life dear only in order that he might fulfill the ministry he had received; he refused to use his energy for any other thing. Acts 20:24 states Paul's almost sublime annoyance at being asked to consider his own self-worth; he was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Practical work may be a competitor against abandonment to God, because practical work is based on this argument – “Remember how 'useful you are here, or - Think how much value you would be in that particular type of work.” That attitude does not put Jesus Christ as the Guide as to where we should go, but our judgment as to where we are of most use. Never consider whether you are of use, but ever consider that you are not your own but His.
Have mercy on me O Lord! How easy we will fall into this kind of temptation of pride? We want to be somebody or being recognized. There is always a secret ambition to be above others or better in our trade. But once we are compelled by the Love of God, we become careless in terms of our self-worth, and seek His will be done in our lives. This is the kind of fruit bearing lifestyle that pleases God. We don’t exercise our faith for our own agenda, but the agenda of God – make disciples of ALL nations. During this economic down time, let’s encourage each other not to be detoured by fear of economic tsunami, but to be driven by God-fearing determination to proclaim His good news.
Love you in Christ,