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Serving and Ministry

Many ways to work for the Lord

                           SERVICE AND MINISTRY

                              Articles from 
           The General Council of the Churches of God (7th Day)
                           Meridian, Idaho, USA


MINISTRY

FINDING GOD'S DIRECTION 

     When Jesus called men and women to follow Him, He also sent
them forth to be his witnesses, to proclaim the good news of
God's grace in word and deed. At the heart of the ministry is
their personal testimony of what God, the Father has done for
them through Jesus Christ. There are many examples in the Bible
of how God used an individual's personal testimony to minister to
others. 
     Two examples come to mind. 

     The first, in Luke 8: 26-39, tells of a legion of demons,
which possessed a man's life, so badly that he no longer wore
clothes or lived in a house, but lived in the cemetery. Though he
was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he often broke
his chains and was driven raving about the countryside by the
demons. When this man encountered Jesus, the demons left him and
he began to follow the Master. Jesus sent him away and told him
to go and tell all the fearful people in the town what the Savior
had done for him. What a personal testimony this man had! Another
story in John 4:1-38 tells of the time Jesus met a woman at a
well in Samaria. The Samarian woman came to the well when few
others were there because of her sinful life. She had been
married five times and she was not married to the man she was
living with when she met Jesus at the well. When the Samarian
woman accepted Jesus as the Messiah, she went and told the whole
town about Jesus. The common thread of both in these stories is
that when they accepted Jesus, they both began to witness to
others their testimony about their changed lives. Everyone who
has encountered Jesus and has been changed and has a testimony to
share with others. 
     Beyond our personal testimony, there are three other ways to
minister to others. One way is through our natural abilities,
often referred to as talents. Every human being possesses certain
natural talents. These talents, by virtue of being created by
God, come from God and are derived from or through parents. There
are obviously different variations and degrees among the natural
talents. Part of every human being's unique personality has to do
with the particular mix of talents. God bestows talents upon
mankind to benefit mankind on the natural level. Having natural
talents has nothing directly to do with being a Christian.
However, a Christian will dedicate his talents to the Lord to be
used for His glory and in His service. It is imperative to
distinguish the difference between spiritual gifts and natural
talents.

     Another way of ministry is through how we live before
others, demonstrating an example of God in us, referred to as the
Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit is described in
Galatians 5:22,23; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance: against such there is no law." Spiritual fruit is the
normal, expected out-come of spiritual growth, and the fullness
of the Holy Spirit. Though different, there seems to be a
relationship between Spiritual gifts and Fruit of the Spirit.
Both gifts and fruit are the total work of the Spirit of God.
While Spiritual gifts help define what a believer does, the fruit
of the Spirit helps define what a believer is. What a believer is
gives an example to unbelievers of what God is like. The danger
in this mirroring of God is, the more flawed the believer, the
less clear the reflection of who God truly is. Many times the
Fruit of Spirit can be counterfeited by self-works. True Fruit of
the Spirit is God-oriented, forming the believer into the image
of God.

     Another way of ministry, 1 think the most important way, is
the empowerment of the Holy Spirit through the Gifts of the
Spirit.
     Spiritual gifts can enable God's people to participate more
effectively in the implementation of Jesus' commission to take
the gospel to the whole world. "Go ye therefore and teach all
nations, ...Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you."(Matthew 28:19,20). This work is to prepare God's
people for works of service; so that the body of Christ may be
built up unfit we all reach unity in the faith and the knowledge
of the Son of God and mature, attaining to the whole measure of
the fullness of Christ.(See Ephesians 4:12,13).
     God can use all of these ways of ministry to help meet the
needs of both believers and unbelievers in the world. Through our
tes timony, our talents, God's fruit in us, and most of all God's
gifts, we can be vessels of blessings to this lost world. We are
living in the last days and God wants to take the gospel message
to the whole world. God has given us wonderful truths that must
not be hidden in these last days, but must be proclaimed from the
mountain tops. Let us use everything God has given us that God's
Church be triumphant.

     God has created us to have purpose in life. Rick Warren, in
his book The Purpose Driven Life, contends that the Bible details
five areas for us to invest in that give our lives the purpose
that God intended. One of these five areas is Service or
Ministry.

     We have been created by God to make a difference in this
life. We could be like animals and just breathe, eat, and exist
until our lives are over. But God wants us to contribute. "For we
are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do"(Ephesians 2:10). We
also have the example of Jesus Christ. As Christians, our goal is
to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. He lived here on
earth so that we may see first hand what God would have us strive
for, and as Christ once said, "whoever wants to become great
among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first
must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be
served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many"
(Matthew 20:26-28).


     Service is vital in the whole process of the Christian
journey. The goal that God has put before the Church is to take
an individual from being a non-believer to becoming a totally
devoted follower of Christ. In this whole process service, also
known as ministry, plays an integral role.
     People begin the journey right where they are - as
non-believers. In this state, these individuals have many needs.
At the forefront is their need of a savior. The Scriptures are
filled with examples of how service caused people to recognize
the power of Christ and begin to follow Him. Jesus healed the
blind, deaf, dumb, lepers, and many others, and the result was
that they saw Him as the answer to their needs and followed Him.
He released prostitutes from bondage, fed the hungry, and freed
the demonpossessed. Through this service, they opened their
hearts to Him and His message. And when we serve others with
humility and love, then, they discover that they have needs and
begin to search for the ONE who can meet those needs. That hunger
begins because someone cared and invested in them.
     They are in need of emotional healing. Life brings with it
hurts and pains, disappointment and sometimes disillusionment.
Some may see life as a hopeless experience that one must endure.
Many have wounded spirits. They see themselves as less than they
really are, a unique and special creation in God's eyes. Their
self-esteem and self-image are very low. They are unable to love
themselves and therefore find it hard to truly love others. It is
through putting the love of Christ in action that we begin the
healing process in others. Christ gives hope to the hopeless as
they see our hope and faith. People learn that they are special
and can live with confidence by loving themselves and truly
loving others as the love of Christ is poured into their lives
through our compassionate investment in their lives.
     This process continues throughout a person's life. There is
never a time when a person is without some need, such as
physical, emotional or spiritual. The privilege of ministering to
another continues for a lifetime. Everyone needs a friend, a
companion to walk with through life. All people need guidance as
they face the myriad of decisions that come their way. We have
the continuing privilege of ministering to one another. The
privilege of confinued service is true regardless of whether a
person becomes a Christian or not. It is true that the hope is
through our Christ-like service that people will be motivated to
accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. Regardless of people's
response to Christ, we are called to keep showing them the love
of God through our service to them. God will always use our
service in His name to His glory whether we see results or not.
We are called to keep serving.

     A wonderful thing happens on this continued journey of
spiritual growth. As people receive healing through the loving
and caring from others, they gain strength. This strength
translates into insight, confidence and the ability to
contribute. Here is where God begins to call them into a service.
As the process of growth and healing continues a person begins to
move from being a "receiver of ministry" to becoming a "provider
of service." God has intended that a person who has received
healing and strength should then extend healing and strength. He
formed the process this way because it seems that there is great
satisfaction and encouragement for people as they realize that
they are moving from a posture of needing help to becoming the
ones who offer help.

     To take this further, continued healing comes from a posture
of service. As people get to the place where God has brought
healing into their lives and they begin to serve others, it is
amazing how the benefit of service goes both ways. It is apparent
that those who are being served (especially in Jesus' name) are
benefited. It also becomes apparent that the one providing the
service is built up, edified, encouraged and healed as he gives
of himself. We grow through serving others. It is God's design.

     So what form should our service take and what course should
we chart in determining how and when to serve? The. answer to
this question is two-fold. Our service can be random and dictated
by the needs that are. presented to us. We should address the
needs of others as we become aware of them. Many times our
opportunities for service are unexpected and spontaneous. A
person may approach us with a physical need hoping that we may be
able to meet it right then. In the course of a conversation we
may become aware of an emotional need in another that can't wait
for a later date but needs ministering to at that moment. Some
people call these "divine appointments." God has put a person
with a need in contact with you at that precise time so that you
can meet the need right then and there. I Peter 3:15 declares,
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to
give the reason for the hope that you have." We must be prepared
to render service to another when God shows us the need. Some
needs can't wait until later but must be met immediately.

     It is also true, however, that there are specific areas of
need that can be addressed and that we can be called to special
areas of service. These are areas for which we can explore, plan,
and prepare. Some may be called to pastoral ministry while others
to the missionary field. These areas of service are of a career
nature and need planning and preparation. One may be called to
minister to unwed mothers. God may want others to minister to the
homeless, teens, seniors, empty-nesters, or to individuals  -
with substance abuse problems. These represent areas of need that
are larger than a single - encounter and also call for
forethought and planning.

     One biblical truth to consider here is that God has created
each us uniquely and hasn't t called everyone to be involved in
every ministry. Being all-knowing, God is able to see all the
needs that must be addressed and has a plan to meet those needs
through His servants. In that overall plan He has specific places
for us to serve so that the whole may be accomplished. We must
seek to find where our place of service is. We can begin to
determine in what areas of service God wants to use us by taking
a good look at the different areas of our lives. A close analysis
of these areas can be very enlightening. One area we can look at
is our life experiences. Our past can provide us with insight and
abilities in certain areas that we can use to serve others. Maybe
you have come from a broken home. There are so many young people
who could benefit greatly from your experiences. How did you
feel? How did you cope? What role does faith play in this area?
The things you have gone through in life can help you find your
God intended areas of service.

     Natural talents are also a determinant to find our areas of
service. We are born with certain abilities and develop
additional abilities as we live life. Some people are skilled
with words. They can turn a phrase and communicate ideas clearly.
Some have great physical coordination, or are adept at
mathematics, or have artistic abilities. As we discover.
exercise, and grow in these areas. we can use them in service for
God. God can use these skills to point us in the area(s) of
ministry He intends for us. For example, a person who is good
with words may involve himself in public speaking or writing
articles and books that minister to others.

     Our personalities also give us guidance. God has created us
with unique personalities, and He uses that uniqueness in His
work. God has made extroverts and introverts. He has made
thinkers as well as feelers. Our personality traits flavor what
ministries we invest in and even how we execute our service. Two
people may have a ministry of preaching, but because one is
analytical and the other is emotional they will approach
preaching differently.

     God also helps us determine our ministries by the spiritual
gifts He gives us. The Scripture says that the Holy Spirit gives
each of us gifts as the Lord sees fit. Our spiritual gifts can
help us find the avenues by which we can serve God.

Paul, in Romans, wrote:

     We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If
     man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to
     his faith. If it serving, let him serve; if teaching, let
     him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it's
     contributing to the needs of others, let him give
     generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently;
     if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully (12:6-5).

     Our passions also help us in this search for our place. We
as individuals feel more passionate about some things than
others. We will invest ourselves deeper in those things that
excite us, things that grab our hearts. Our passions for certain
things are God-given and help to shape us. They can determine
what interests will bring the most satisfaction and fulfillment.
and will also help to determine where God wants you to serve.
Some people love children, others feel drawn to seniors, for
example. By taking a good look at all five of these areas of our
lives we can determine where God wants us to serve in His body.
God is calling us to service. Through serving in His name we
bring His love to those we come in contact with, and they benefit
from it. In rendering service in Christ's name._ we also are
built up and blessed. May God use us to serve our communities and
thereby allow us to live out our God-given purpose.

Andy Hassen is a veteran pastor with over 20 years of experience
ministering in the Church of God (Seventh Day).

JESUS OUR MODEL OF MINISTRY

     Since October 2003 ACTS magazine has dedicated every other
issue to the topic of the Church's five purposes. So far, we have
explored four of the five purposes: developing a strong witness
with evangelism, the necessity of spiritual growth by
discipleship, the benefit of touching lives through fellowship,
and experiencing God in the heart of worship. While it is
essential to learn more about the unique doctrines of the Church
of God (7th Day), we all need to remind ourselves of the basics
from time to time. The basics tell us why we do the things we do,
and why we believe the things we believe. Among the Jews, who
demanded miraculous signs and the Greeks. who sought after
wisdom. the Apostle Paul declared, "we preach Christ crucified"
(1 Corinthians 1:23a). Christ crucified! It may sound foolish to
the world, but it is hope to all those who believe in Him. So
whether you are a long dedicated believer in Jesus Christ, a new
believer, or a nonbeliever who is interested in learning more
about who Jesus is, ACTS is a missionary magazine that strives to
proclaim the Good News to you. This month we conclude our study
of the Church's five purposes with a look inside the topic of
ministry. In our discussion of ministry, we will learn that Jesus
is our model of ministry, that there are three ministries of
Jesus, and that vision is an integral part of ministry.
Ministry overlaps with the other four purposes of the church.
Evangelism is a type of ministry as is discipleship, fellowship.
and worship. If Jesus is our focus, then ministry must be our
priority. It is hard to imagine, yet it is true, that this
foundational topic is sometimes misunderstood by those in the
church. Yes. ministry is broad topic and it can mean different
things to different people. Often times when some in the
church think of "ministry," they think, "Isn't that what we pay
the pastor to do?" Well, friends that is simply the wrong answer.
That response does nothing and says nothing. Christ came to save
us from our sins, and in return for what He has done for us, it
is a cop out to say that "ministry is only for our pastors." All
Christians must be active in some form of ministry. It does not
matter if your ministry is in the church or outside of the
church. No matter where your ministry is, it impacts lives for
Christ.

PURPOSE IS ESSENTIAL

PURPOSES OF THE CHURCH!

1. Evangelism: 
2. Discipleship:
3. Fellowship:
4. Worship: 
5. Christlike Ministry:

     Purpose is essential in all things, especially ministry.
When we seek to understand God's purpose in our ministries, we
have a clear understanding of what we are doing and why we are
doing it. We gain both a sense of resolution and determination.
Christians must set goals and strive to attain them. Let's now
take a look at Paul's goal: "I press on toward the goal to win
the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus"
(Philippians 3:14). What an awesome goal! Each of Christ's three
ministries. which we will learn more about later, has a clear
purpose and sturdy sense of direction.

     Acts 13:36 states, "For when David had served God's purpose
in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his
fathers and his body decayed." What if David had never served
God's purpose? What if David never ministered to his people? What
hope would David have? Yes, David was a famous king, and he was
wealthy, too, but his body decayed after his death like our
bodies will do one day. Since David served God's purpose, he will
be rewarded in God's future kingdom. And what if you do not serve
God's purpose? What hope do you have without God-absolutely none.
Everything has a purpose, a reason, and a time. "But the plans of
the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through
all generations" (Psalm 33:11).

     The book of Ecclesiastes shares this nugget of wisdom with
us, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every
activity under heaven" (3:1). The Israelites experienced this
cycle. In times when they were devout to God, they were blessed
with health, food, and land. But when they forsook the Lord, they
suffered tragic events, such as slavery and exile. The longer we
are active in ministry, the more we see many of the same benefits
and problems that appear and reappear. The benefits always
outweigh the difficulties when our focus is on Jesus. Take for
instance this short but poignant joke about the history of
medicine. A man enters into a doctor's office and says, "Doctor,
I have an ear ache." Here are the replies:

In the year 2000 BC - "Here, eat this root." 
1000 BC - "That root is heathen, say this prayer."
1850 AD - "That prayer is superstition, drink this potion."
1940 AD - "That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill."
1985 AD - "That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic."
2000 AD - "That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root!"

     Like this adage points out, sometimes the best medicine is
the original, basic prescription. In ministry, there are many
ways to minister. And there really is no one way to do ministry,
but there is no better example of how to minister, than the
example of Jesus, our model of ministry. If we truly love Christ,
we will become obedient to God's will in our lives.

CHRIST'S THREE MINISTRIES

     When today's youth think of their "heroes," many boys look
to multi-millionaire athletes and many girls turn to pop
superstars. Our youth want to dress like them. talk like them,
and act like them. How many youth cite Jesus Christ as their
hero? Are we reminding our youth about what the Bible says about
being young? "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are
young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life,
in love, in faith and in purity." Turning from young people to
adults, if I were to poll Christian adults and ask them who their
hero is, how many would say Jesus Christ? We must teach our
children that no human being is without sin by setting an example
of dependency on God in our lives (Romans 3:23). At some point in
our lives. regardless of whether we like it or not, we fall
short. In fact, some of us fall deeper than others. Nevertheless,
the Good News is still GOOD: There is a person who is worthy to
be imitated! There is a person who overcame temptation and the
deadly impact of sin. Where we have fallen short in our lives, we
must give Him our pain. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, makes all
things new. This Son of God is unique and special. From His birth
until His death, He came to change lives by living a
servant-oriented lifestyle culminating with His sacrificial
death. From the Bible we learn about Jesus' three ministries. His
earthly ministry. His heavenly ministry, and His new earthly
ministry. At the forefront of all of these ministries is Jesus'
loyal service to His Heavenly Father and His people.

     Christ's three ministries offer us three unique pictures of
who Jesus is. The embodiment of His earthly ministry is that He
was a suffering sacrifice. The Gospels record the life of Jesus
as a spotless and perfect Lamb of God who is sacrificed on the
cross. John the Baptist pointed out, "Look the Lamb of God, who
takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). His disciples
would later learn of the empty tomb and the glorious resurrection
of our Lord. In Jesus' heavenly ministry, which is taking place
right now, He serves as our intercessor. At Pentecost it was
observed that "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all
witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has
received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured
out what you now see and hear" (Acts 2:32-33). The new earthly
ministry of Jesus will demonstrate that Jesus is the King of
kings and Lord of lords who reigns on His throne of glory. John
the Revelator saw, "Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with
which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron
scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God
Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:15-16).

HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY

     What Christ did on the earth serves as the very basis for
our salvation. We are not saved from temptation or the power and
pres ence of sin, but we can be saved from the penalty of sin if
we believe that Jesus is Lord (see Acts 16:31). Salvation can be
obtained only because Jesus lived a life dedicated to His
Father's will. By being perfectly obedient, even unto the point
of His sacrificial death, God raised His Son in the glorious
resurrection. Paul wrote, "I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who
believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Romans 1:16).
There is no other name under heaven that can provide us with
salvation. The same Jesus who saves us is the One who, in His
earthly ministry, lived as a humble servant and a sacrificial
lamb. Because He fulfilled His earthly ministry, Jesus will have
two subsequent ministries-His heavenly and His new earthly
ministries. Our ministries will be greatly blessed if only we
make the effort to become more like Jesus.

HIS HEAVENLY MINISTRY

     Jesus' heavenly ministry offers us the application of
salvation. Through the power of the Holy Spirit. the application
of salvation is granted when Jesus dwells within us. In more than
one church 1 have seen someone ask a child, "How do you know that
Jesus lives?" More often than not, praise be to God, the child
responds, "Because He lives in me." We should always remember
these words of a child. The hymn "He Lives" rejoices in the fact
that Jesus is alive. Through the power of God, the obedient
believer is transformed to be like Christ. How can you tell if
someone is Christ-like? The Christ-like person will exhibit the
moral likeness of Christ and participate in ministry. From the
right hand of His Father, Jesus performs His heavenly ministry
today as we await His second coming.
     God desires the believer to be transformed into the very
image of His Son. 2 Corinthians 3:15 confirms this, "And we, who
with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being
transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which
comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." Believers are no longer
in the lineage of Adam but are in the lineage of Christ. We must
live for God, not for the world. Romans 12:2 states, "Do not
conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able
to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and
perfect will." God's intentions for us are plain. As His new
creation in Christ Jesus, we are called to be moral reflections
of Jesus. Everything that we do must be done to the glory of God.
When we experience the power of spiritual transformation in our
lives and our ministries, we are renewed, excited. and full of
life. Have you prayed for a spiritual transformation or a
spiritual renewal in your life today?

     One of the most famous verses in the New Testament says,
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old
has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through the
transformation of one's character and the reformation of one's
conduct, we can share in Jesus' moral likeness. Morality is an
important part of ministry because our ministries are held
accountable to God and to His Church, the bride of Christ. What
we do with our time on earth demonstrates where our heart is.
Where we spend our time is a good indication as to where our
loyalty rests. Whom will you serve- God, yourself, or another
human? Believers can have a Christ-like mind through the
surrender of ones heart to God's will and the study of His Word.
Our rewards for serving God are in this world and in the world to
come. As believers in Him we will have the unique opportunity to
spend eternity with Him in the future.

HIS NEW EARTHLY MINISTRY

     For almost 2,000 years believers in Jesus have awaited His
return. Jesus taught, "No one knows about that day or hour, not
even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As
it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the
Son of Man" (Matthew 24:36). Despite this, many have attempted to
predict the date for the return of Jesus. So far, 100% of the
predictions have failed. But believers must stay strong in the
faith and realize that this world will one day be changed. We
must exhibit patience, an essential "fruit of the Spirit," as we
wait for Jesus to physically return. When He returns, He will
transform our bodies from mortality to immortality. At this time
the true Church will be completed and glorified with Christ and
evil will be destroyed. One important biblical truth is that our
planet will experience a redemptive transformation as well. Did
you know that the earth will be restored to its Edenic purity?
(see Revelation 21). Jesus will reign from the New Jerusalem and
His new earthly ministry will last for eternity. Just think: Your
ministry could impact lives forever!

GOT VISION?

     Ministry is built upon a vision. Vision is integral because
it speaks to what God calls each believer and each congregation
to do. As we have seen in Christ's three ministries, the Bible
teaches that vision is important because it allows us to see the
future. In order to have a vision, you need to combine prayer
with reflection. Prayer is communicating with God intimately. It
links us with Him. By reflecting on our past experiences. present
realities. and future hope, we can understand more about who we
are and what goals we are capable of maintaining. God has a
purpose for every Christ-centered believer and church. Whether
you are part of a mega-church or meet in your home, your ministry
and your church needs a vision. Plainly put. your ministry is
going either forward for Christ or moving back. Vision addresses
the question. "What does God want me to do?" God desires that we
worship Him and serve Him, but also we must identify the
spiritual gifts. In every community around the world there are
community needs. Regardless of the community, God desires that we
bring the church to the community. Vision should address how to
bring church to the community. The days of waiting for the
community to come to church are over.

MORE ABOUT JESUS LESS ABOUT US

     Ministry is service. By proclaiming Christ and allowing
ourselves to be used for His purposes, we touch lives. Isn't it
truly amazing how the God of the universe uses us to do His will!
We in the church must understand that people are far more
important than the ministry programs that we make. Jesus died to
save people, not programs. All church programs are necessary when
they are centered upon Jesus. You may think that you have an
important program, but if it is not impacting lives for Christ,
then you should seriously reconsider another program. Some types
of Christ-centered programs in the church are ministries that
bring healing to hurting people, ministries that train current
and future leaders, and ministries that seek to discover and how
to use a person's spiritual gifts. The possibilities of making a
difference for Jesus are endless. Just take a look of some of the
possible ministries you could be involved in:

Prayer ministries, music ministries, prison ministries,
evangelistic ministries, drama ministries, shut-in ministries,
food ministries, children ministries, pastoral ministries,
counseling ministries, and much more.

     Ministry takes time, patience, perseverance, and prayer. As
the saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day." Mother Teresa, a
figure of servanthood in the 20th century, once said, "Give
yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things
on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in
your own weakness." Which do you concentrate upon in your
ministry and life - God's unconditional love or your own
weakness?

     Let me leave you now with a final thoughtThe time to serve
God is now! The time to minister is now! The Bible contains all
of the missing pieces to your life and your ministry. Take time
to study it and learn more about Jesus, our model of ministry.
Since no one is guaranteed another day of life, you must choose
to serve Him with all of your might today! You can serve God by
worshiping Him, obeying Him, loving Him, and doing His purposes
and will. John Ruskin, in a rather unambiguous statement, once
observed, "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is,
in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what
we do." The point of Ruskin's quote is not to undermine the
importance of thoughts, knowledge, or beliefs, but rather to
point out that we need to understand that ministry is putting our
thoughts, knowledge, and beliefs into action. Everything that we
do must be done based on our biblical beliefs in God and Christ.
May Jesus be your model of ministry.

John R. Kennedy is the Associate Editor of ACTS and writes from
Monterrey, Mexico. 
September 2004 ACTS

HOW TO MINISTER - FIRST CHRIST, CHRIST FIRST

     What can I do? I don't have any useful skills. I'm not smart
enough. I'm too old. I'm too young. 1 have a disability. I don't
have enough time. Isn't that someone else's job? Have you ever
had some of these thoughts or questions when thinking about
ministry? It is unfortunate that many of us are either unaware,
or too naive, in thinking that we do not have a role to play in
ministering to others.
     All too often, the word  minister has various mental images
attached to it, which may make its true meaning not quite as
clear. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines minister"
as the following:

A servant; a subordinate; an officer or assistant of inferior
rank; hence, an agent, an instrument.i

     So in order to make the meaning of the word easier
understood, let's call the words "minister" and "ministry" by the
following: servant and service.

     How then can you be a servant? A good place to start serving
is at the local fellowship you attend. Physical acts of service
can be done to enhance greatly the spiritual experience of
others. These could include helping with the parking, door
greeting, ushering, food preparation. operating audio/visual
equipment, setting up and taking down tables and chairs, sweeping
and vacuuming floors. and maybe even security. These may not seem
like important jobs, but they are really the critical framework
that makes a church service operate. Can you play an instrument
or sing?
     Music is an important component in worship and sometimes the
focal point of many services. Even singing hymns with the church
body is a form of service. Do you have widows, orphans, or anyone
who is in need at your local church and could use some form of
support? Hopefully. it is becoming apparent that the physical
forms of service in which you can provide are almost endless.
Spiritual forms of service can also be provided at your church.
Fellowshipping is one of the most commonly overlooked forms of
service. "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to
another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of
remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD,
and that thought upon his name" (Malachi 3:16).
     Try spending some time talking with your brothers and
sisters in Christ about spiritual matters. not only about your
job or the weather. Tell others of an exciting Bible verse that
you read the other day, or share what Christ has done for you
recently. Explain the things that have helped deepen your
relationship with God. Help those in spiritual need. Paul states
in Galatians 6:2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill
the law of Christ." If you see someone depressed, then go and hug
that person. If someone has fallen back into a particular sin,
help him or her get back up by providing words of encouragement.
We all need the support and encouragement of fellow brothers     
and sisters, so be willing to lend an ear and give a voice when
needed.
     Prayer is another important form of spiritual service. James
5:16 declares, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one
for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer
of a righteous man availeth much." If people in your congregation
are sick or discouraged, pray for them daily. Request your
congregation to pray for them. The New Testament gives numerous
examples of the early Christians praying for someone who was in
need. Acts 12:5, for example, states, "Peter therefore was kept
in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto
God for him." Maybe you are wheelchair bound, or perhaps have
lost some mobility, you too can participate in ministry by
becoming a prayer warrior. God can and will use anyone who comes
to Him, and God does and will always answer prayers of sincerity.

     Another form of spiritual service is preaching. Just because
you are not a pastor does not mean you cannot preach. Many
fellowship groups allow their lay members to give a message
sometimes. If you have prepared a particular study, show it to
your pastor and ask him if he thinks it is appropriate for a
Bible study or a Sabbath morning message. People will appreciate
the insight you have on a particular subject.

     Serving our fellow brothers and sisters is an important task
that we should do on a regular basis, but we must be sure that we
do not just limit ourselves to serving other Christians. Luke
6:32-34 says, "For if ye love them which love you, what thank
have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do
good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for
sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye
hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to
sinners, to receive as much again."
     Christ gave us a commission to share the Gospel with the
whole world (Matthew 28:19). Not all of us have been given the
work of an evangelist, but that doesn't mean we cannot do our
part to share Christ with others. I have often heard the saying
"people would rather see a sermon than hear one." Become a
sermon. Be an example to those whom you come in contact with each
and every day. When you are at work, in the grocery store, or
waiting in traffic, let them see Christ and His Holy Spirit
flowing in you. People will take notice that you do things
different from others. They will notice your love, your patience,
your speech, your thoughtfulness, and the fact that you care
about others. We are to be as lights shining in the darkness.
"And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the
afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy
darkness be as the noonday" (Isaiah 58:10). 2 Corinthians 4:6
also states, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of
darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 
     If we set a good example to others by our actions, they may
be more apt to ask us about our beliefs, so then we can have an
opportunity to share Christ. Those who stand on street corners
and shout out God's wrath to unbelievers have done little to
convert them to Christ. Remember that people will care about what
you know when they know that you care.

     Perhaps the most important tool in serving others is to ask
God for help and guidance. Ask Him what your role should be and
how to fulfill it to the maximum. Each and every one of us has
talents that we can use in service. God has given us these
talents and expects us to use them (see Matthew 25:14-30). Not
everyone, however, has the same talents or jobs. The body of
Christ has many different responsibilities as Paul states in 1
Corinthians:

     For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall
     say, Because 1 am not the hand, I am not of the body;
     is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say,
     Because 1 am not the eye, I am not of the body, is it
     therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye,
     where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where
     were the smelling?  But now bath God set the members every
     one of them in the body, as it bath pleased him (12:14-18).

     God designed us and gave us each a specific function to
perform. We need to have the humility to let Him direct us into
that responsibility. "And he gave some, apostles; and some,
prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers"
(Ephesians 4:11). Maybe God is calling you into one of these
positions in a full-time manner. Or perhaps your job is that of a
door greeter. Regardless of your specific calling, God has given
each one of us in the body the job of being a minister.

Originally from Rochester, New York, Dan Difranco now writes from
Springfield, Missouri where he and his wife Jennifer are active
in ministrv and praise and worship.

                            ..................

From the September 2004 ACTS magazine. A publication of the
General Council of the Churches of God (7th Day), Meridian,
Idaho, USA. 


 
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