Doing ministry in our own power

After God told Moses to go, I’m sending you, what was Moses’ reply to God was: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”   Moses’ answer implies that Moses was expecting God to use somebody great to do God’s work. But is God looking for anyone great?  God was just looking for someone whom He could use.  When God gave Moses a mission, it wasn’t with the intention that he was to do this all in his own power and all by himself.  But God told Moses that “I would go with you. (v.12).

Megachurch-cartoonChristians ministries, both small and megachurch-type ministries, look for greatness in their programs, and their preachers–those who have a ton of charisma, intelligence, and leadership. As mere human beings in God’s service, we are just participating in God’s work and mission.  It’s easy for us to deceive ourselves into believing that we are, and can, do ministry in our own power; besides, doing ministry in our own power will also tire us out quickly.  All types of pastors can fall for this–and even lay-people.  When we serve in church, does God expect us to be anyone great when we teaching Sunday school, leading worship, or preaching. Is God expecting us to serve in our own power?

In my limited years of ministry, I can say that it’s very easy for us to slip into this mode of thinking of serving and relying in our own power .  Actually, doing so disables us from completely relying on God.  But why do we still do it ?  Because of pride of Self.  Sometimes, when tasks are too easy for us to do, there’s greater temptation to rely on our own power and strength.  If this happens, will God get the glory, or will we get the glory? If we begin to think we can do it without God, we will inevitably take glory for our own work when all the glory belongs to God.

God taught Moses that the concern was not about himself and who he is, but it’s about God, and who God is, and his calling to us. God said to him in v.14 that “I AM WHO I AM.”  And he reassured Moses that “I will be with you” and tell your fellow Israelites that “I AM has sent me to you.” Moses thought that God was looking for someone special. That’s why he asked God: “Who am I to do these things?”  He thought he wasn’t good enough for God’s “great and magnificent” service.  But he really had missed the point.  God wasn’t looking for greatness.  It’s really all about the great I AM.

If it’s God’s mission, then it’s God’s calling and He’s looking for someone available to be used by God and someone humble. And when God calls and we obey, God will enable us to serve Him. It’s not about our own status, power, influence, and often times, even Christians make this mistake. It’s about being available to be used by God, and coming to complete humility so that we have to totally rely on God’s power and completely trust in Him.

Is charging interest right or wrong?

The Old Testament in the bible has taught that we should not charge interest, but we are charged interest and are bound to pay it, otherwise, we lose our house or car. We are enslaved and in bondage to interest. How to we get out? When I watched this video I came across, I received a revelation of truth that I hope everyone may also have.

19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. (Deuteronomy 23:19-20, English Standard Version)

Total devotion–in the monastery and the workplace

stpetersCan we be totally devoted Christians without hiding away in monastery or convent?  How do we do it in the marketplace without being beaten down for our faith?

Under Emperor Constantine in the Roman Empire, by imperial decree, everyone was baptized as an infant and understood to be a Christian.  To become a Christian was difficult because everyone else was already considered a Christian. The difference between the Christian and the “Christian life” became blurred.  Rather than help the Church, this may have hurt it.

There were Christians then who wanted to become seriously devoted Christians and made a personal decisions to give up everything to follow and serve God.  To pursue a higher calling then meant becoming a monk or a nun and renouncing materialism and marriage.  torontodowntownMonasticism grew.  People even made vows to the evangelical counsel of poverty, chastity and obedience.  In effect, this raised the bar higher. There was now more things to differentiate mainstream cultural Christians from those who sacrificed everything and committed their whole life to serve God.

In the Protestant and evangelical world, we don’t have monasticism.  So how can we express our devotion to the Lord Jesus without hiding away in a monastery?  Can we boldly bring our Christian faith into the workplace without sacrificing our total devotion to God?  It’s not easy, but I think it can be done.

James 2 vs doctrine of justification by faith

On the surface, there seems to be two seemingly contradictory ideas between: 1/ James and his faith proved by action in James 2, and, 2/ Luther’s doctrine of justification that we cannot be saved by our good works.  I’ve heard Christians present James as a counter-argument to the doctrine of justification by faith.

The Reformational teaching of justification by grace thru faith says that we cannot be saved by our good works because we are all imperfect sinners at heart.  Our works will never be good enough for God. We can only be saved through our faith in Jesus.  The Apostle Paul taught, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28). Ditto in Rom. 4:5; 11:6; Gal. 2:16, 3:5-6; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 3:9, plus many more.

James 2:20-24 seems to juxtapose an alternate view of faith and action:
“20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

These are two different ideas.  There is no contradiction here but it seems so easy to confuse these two ideas.