John and Paul

In 1967, John Lennon and Paul McCartney loudly declared that All You Need Is Love. And those words changed the world. They were a key part of a cultural revolution (they sang about that, too). They may not have gone about it the right way, but they weren’t entirely wrong.

Thousands of years before guitars got plugged in and a hairdo was referred to as a mop-top, Another John and another Paul spoke of a different kind of love that would change the world.

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends to the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.

John 3:29-30 (NIV)

John, Jesus’ cousin, was known for baptising people. Some of his followers were a little upset when Jesus also began baptising. And there were more people in Jesus’ lineup on the shore than in John’s. Rather than joining the jealous conversation, John explained that now that Jesus had shown up and stepped up, his job was pretty much done. His entire purpose was to point people toward Jesus. And because people were going to Jesus, his purpose and his joy were made complete. His time was over. Jesus’ had begun.

If you have any encouragements from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV)

Just as John was filled with joy at people following Jesus, Paul’s joy was made complete when the believers acted in one accord, displaying the attributes of Christ.

Lennon and McCartney may have landed on some very profound truths in their lyrics, but without ever knowing the true power behind those words, they are void of life. All of the focus was on the men behind the microphones.

The Baptist and The Apostle also landed on some very profound truths in their words. The difference here is that they both pointed the attention away from themselves and toward Jesus—the fulfillment of their proclamations.

The glory does not belong to us, but to Christ. All that we do should be a reflection of him and only serve to point others toward the cross. If all you need is love, love can be found in Christ at the foot of the cross. When you find Christ, your joy will also be complete.

Read: 2 Kings 1-3, John 3:22-36

Benchwarmer

In sports, no one wants to be a benchwarmer—that one person that’s on the team just to fill out the roster and maybe get some playing time in if every other key player gets injured. A benchwarmer is the player no one knows. The player whose jersey you never see in the stands. No athlete aims for the position of benchwarmer.

So why are churches full of them?

Western churches are rife with people who are perfectly content to warm their seat on a Sunday morning and do nothing else with their faith for the rest of their life. Like a player with great talent, but no drive, we warm the pews and add an extra body to the weekly attendance count, but that’s it. We’re the player no one knows about. And that’s fine because it’s not our job to do anything else.

Or is it?

[Jesus Christ] is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

For some reason, we, the benchwarmers in the church, have come to the conclusion that it’s up to the pastor and the rest of the church leadership team to build the church. But this verse tells us the opposite. It’s the pastor’s job to equip God’s people to do Christ’s work and build up the church. Who are God’s people? You are God’s people.

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

Ephesians 4:1 (NLT)

If you’re that player who has been called up from the farm team to sit on the bench of the big league team, are you going to just keep that spot warm for a better player? Or are you going to get off your rear end and work harder to earn your spot on the field? You want to play the game worthy of the level you’ve been brought to.

So, whether or not you know what your specific call is in the body of Christ is irrelevant. Even if you do know you’re call, you are still called to build the body of Christ.

Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

If you are not an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, or a teacher, you fall into the sixth (and possibly the most important) category—the saints, or God’s people. You are not exempt from ministry work, but rather have the important responsibility of building the body of Christ. Whether you have a title or not, you have a position in the church and it is anything but lowly. So get off that bench and start living a life worthy of your calling. Go build up the Church.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 24-26, Ephesians 4

Your assignment

In Israel, God set apart an entire tribe to tend to and take care of the tabernacle. The Levites were tasked with gatekeeping, treasuries, guarding, furnishing, blending spices, baking bread, and making music among other things. Each man over the age of twenty had a responsibility to the temple.

But I’m just a normal person.

No, you’re not.

He has made us his Kingdom and his priests who serve before God his Father.

Revelation 1:6 (NLT)

We are His temple and we are also the priests that serve the temple. Accepting the gift of salvation also means the acceptance of your assignment as keeper of the temple. There is a place for every single person to serve in the Kingdom of God. Like in Israel where no Levite was exempt from service, neither are we exempt.

Read through 1 Chronicles 9:22-34. Everyone got their assignment. Do you have yours?

Your assignment may not be a visible role in the church. It may not even be in the church at all. Since we all (the global Church) are the temple of God, to serve the Church as a whole is to serve the temple.

Did you know that there is a sixth element to ministry? We only ever hear about five.

He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.

Ephesians 4:11 (NLT)

Yes, we know all that. But read on.

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:12 (NLT)

The responsibility of building the church is not on your pastor or teachers. It’s on you. Yes, you! Our pastors and teachers are there to equip us to do the work of the ministry—our assignments, whatever they may be.

If you are sitting there without a clue as to what you’re assignment may be, get your Bible. Read it. Pray. Ask God to show you what you can do in your role in the ministry. Pray that He would reveal to you your position in the temple, the body of Christ.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 8-10, John 8:37-59

Super-apostles

Did you know that even church people can be deceived? Gasp!

In 2 Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church and is worried that those who had already accepted the true Gospel of Christ might listen to and believe the words of other apostles claiming a different Jesus and offering a different spirit.

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

2 Corinthians 11:4-6 (ESV)

Lying lips can often spew what sounds like truth.

Psalm 119:11 talks about storing up God’s Word in you heart so that you will not sin against Him. This is why it is so important that you not only know God, but know His Word and how it applies to you. Even the devil quoted scripture to Jesus.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:14 (ESV)

Know God. Know His Word. Know how it applies to you so that, when the super-apostles show up, you will be able to discern God’s truth from the devil’s lies.

Daily Bible reading:Ecclesiastes 7-9, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

We can work it out

Did you know that every Christian is called to full-time ministry?

But wait! I don’t want to be a pastor!

Full-time ministry isn’t just what we refer to as the five-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers according to Ephesians 4:11). Full-time ministry is the Great Commission.

And he [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Mark 16:15 (ESV)

Some – a lot of – people really aren’t called to preach. We make a mistake when we believe that ministry is limited to those five specific roles. But there are other roles in ministry that are just as, if not more, important than preaching and teaching.

In Acts, we see that there were certain people whose physical needs were being neglected. Now, if all the Church had to offer were pastors, those people would never have their daily needs met. Instead, the disciples held a meeting and said, “Hey, you guys, we feel we need to keep on preaching, but we need some help in other areas. Who’s in?” (Paraphrase.)

So a group of people who were full of faith and the Holy Spirit were appointed and anointed to do a different work. These weren’t lesser men by any means. They were called to a different type of ministry.

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit… These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 6:5-7 (ESV)

Did you know that the Gospel can be proclaimed just loudly with a helping hand as it can from a stage with a microphone in your hand?

There is a place for everyone in the ministry. If you know it’s not your job to be doing the preaching and teaching and prophesying, look for another area where you can use your gifts to help spread the Word. If you’re still not sure, ask your pastor or church leaders. I know I can speak for my own church when I say that we will never turn down willing hands.

Daily Bible reading: Esther 7-10; Acts 6