The Greater Work

"And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." Ephesians 6:18...."Our weapons are hewn by the Word and the Spirit, and our fighting stance is prayer......When we open our hearts in prayerful abiding, what we first discover is that we have false beliefs residing there....We don't begin with prayer as a device for getting things done, but as a means of communing with God who transforms the heart and leads us in the way....We enter into the reality of our power in weakness, particularly when we 'cease to set the agenda,' and when we 'make space' for God to be God." Jamin Goggin....."Prayer does not equip us for the greater work. Prayer is the greater work." Oswald Chambers

 

I recently followed a Facebook thread where there was a debate concerning the ministry of prayer and the ministry of social activism. It had begun with a pastor's response to others within the Church who had been criticizing, even attacking those who had been coming together in large gatherings for prayer. The criticism went along the lines that many use prayer as an excuse to not be on the front lines with those voicing concerns over social justice, making their voice heard on what they felt were the issues of the day. They didn't seem to overly value the ministry of prayer. Let me express that I know that saying, "I'll be in prayer about that," can be nothing more than an avoidance of our own involvement. More, I know, and have been a part of groups that wanted to use prayer as a means, as Goggin says, of setting our own agenda. Telling Him what we want, and then getting Him to come alongside and make it happen. Yet, I have a greater concern in all of this. I believe that we are steadily losing our sense of the supernatural and the miraculous power of our God, and replacing it with a reliance upon our own understanding, reasoning, wisdom, and power. We rely more on our intellects than upon His Person. We want the Kingdom to come, but we believe we're the agents for bringing it in. We're willing to go, but we lack the patience to abide in Him until we're sent. We're willing to work, but we aren't willing to soak in His Presence and receive the power of His Life...and the gifts He provides for the work that He chooses, and not us. We're willing to talk.....a lot...to one another. We're less and less willing soak in His Person, communing with Him, receiving the fullness of His mind and heart. So we go out to fight the battle on our own. With our own understanding, our own weapons, and our own strength...which is no strength at all. We're always looking for the greater work. We can't believe that, as Chambers says, prayer is the greater work.

 

I think the Church is well aware of the problems of our culture, as well as the problems within the Church itself and its culture. Conferences and seminars abound and endless speakers expound. We spend a lot of time listening to what we all think. Very little time goes into listening to what the heart and mind of the Father is saying. We leave with a lot of ideas, even good ideas, but we have not ventured out clothed in His Life and Presence. We know how to trust in plans. We don't know how to trust in the Person. We learn how powerless a plan is when it has not been placed before Him in surrender. He says His ways are not ours. Oftentimes, our plans have no relation to His. Chambers insisted that his missionaries would not go anywhere under their own impulse or be motivated by human need around them. They were to abide in Him, soak in His Life, and listen for His voice that would send them out. Exactly as Paul was sent out to Macedonia, when his desire was to go to Asian Minor. As a good friend likes to say, there is a difference between going out for Him and being sent out by Him. The first has much of the "self." The latter is all centered upon Him.

I read a piece recently that spoke of the Lord's words in the book of Revelation, of how He warned the Church that He would come and remove their lampstand, which represents the Light of His Life that they were to shine forth with. The writer asks that if He were to do so in our particular fellowship, would we even notice? Perhaps you've heard the story of the brother from another culture, one that lacked all the physical, material and educational resources that we in the west are blessed with. Upon observing the western Church, he said, in love, that he was amazed at how much we were able to do without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. May we never cease to work, but may the work flow out of the greatest work....surrendered lives that seek first His Kingdom and His Life...and long to be nothing more than vessels of that Life sent out into the midst of a dying world. Being His Living Bread and Water. Living supernatural lives in the natural world....and as did the first century church, turning it upside down.

Blessings,
Pastor O

 

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