Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Connection (with audio)


…And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you…And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
(2 Corinthians 12:14-15 – ESV)

Surely as Christians we want to connect with people, but the best way to do that is to make sure we are connected to God first. That may bring an “of course” thought in your mind, but hear me out. It is true that showing special interest makes people feel special and gets special results. Most often, if you give it your best it will bring out their best. However, you have to remember to be looking to give not get, otherwise you will be disappointed. We often get angry because we feel we have given extras but it went unrecognized. We need to heed the lesson God is teaching us through the Apostle Paul. Pour yourself out to people, but go further than the world would and pour out your expectations as well, that is learning of Christ as Paul had done. It is when we can be poured out, spent, and not appreciated that we connect with God in a very real way.

I seek not yours but you – this is the testimony of every godly minister. They do not serve for what they can get from God’s people, but for what they can give to God’s people. Now some think they are seeking to give but they are still seeking to get, not money but recognition, approval, validation from men. Faithfulness is more important than friendliness. We do this by seeking to be connected to God, to be faithful to His Word, before we seek connection with men. A minister should be able to say that he is not seeking your approval but seeking your improvement.

This will lead to the right kind of burden, a burden to build, in the right way. Some can build the number of members, but God wants to build the members in our numbers. Some focus on church growth but God wants to focus on people growth, not numbers but godliness, not the quantity but the quality. Numbers can be wonderful if more are truly getting connected with God in a deeper way. However, chasing numbers just for the sake of more may mean more are connected overall but not percentage wise, and not very deep either. It is a mile wide and an inch deep, and leads to being led astray by chasing and feeding the monster of ministry. Before God is interested in any Christian’s ministry, He is interested in the minister.

When someone is talking with you and you are really listening intently they usually can tell and are eager to share more about themselves. When you show interest others become interested, and in a sense, in obeying God, it works a lot like that. If we are interested in His way, He shows us more of it more clearly. He is the only One who won’t ever ignore you when you truly seek Him. When you pour out to God He will always pour back on you.

Paul was defending his ways before the Corinthians, who had approved of false apostles and turned away from him. He says, “I’ll tell you about great and marvelous things I have seen and done, things those “super apostles” can’t even dream of let alone demonstrate. Now God hasn’t rid me of this thorn and you all run after the false apostles and despise me, and yet I still will be spent for you. That is what is going on that is what it is all about. They care about themselves, I care about you, and the poor among you, that is why I collect funds, for them, not me.”

Here we see Paul poured out and even doing so if it meant they loved him less. He will keep spending even if they don’t spend, he will keep pouring in even if it seems unfruitful to him. We can give, and give in any number of ways. But do we resent it when we give or serve? A good way to measure this is to see our reaction when our service is unappreciated. Do we resent it? If Paul’s service was unappreciated by the Corinthian Christians, he did not resent it. We need to learn to give where we can get nothing back, to lay up treasures in heaven, to trust God that He is watching our labor. Paul cared about God firstly and was poured out to Him and that is how he stayed connected even through the trials of the thorn and the anguish of being turned away.

What is worse, feeling the pain of the physical or suffering the anguish when you try and help someone and they despise you for it? For example, when your children turn from you, or think of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, or Paul understanding what the sovereignty of God meant in dealing with the Jews. Would you do it then? Would you serve God anyway, even if it meant He didn’t rescue you, didn’t revive you, didn’t restore you, and didn’t reconcile you to your loved ones? Well, that is the place where God works. That is part of the fellowship of His sufferings. Is He worth it? Yes He surely is, and when you can get to that place you will see God work like no other way you’ve known.

Pleading prayer is a start. Paul pleaded for the thorn to go away but it wouldn’t and he still was willing to sacrifice for the Corinthians. Even through God did not help him in the way he wanted, and those he was called to minister to even turned on him, still he served. That is consecration. That is powerful. That is like Christ, and that is the Holy Spirit living through you; that is connecting to God’s heart.

That is how Jesus was, how Paul was, how I hope to be, and what I am encouraging you to be like. Poured out; this is the example I am exhorting you to follow. Now I am no Apostle Paul, and Paul was only a shadow of Jesus Christ, it is Him we look to as our ultimate example, and it is only Him that can empower us to live this way. He will do it if we will get connected.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©


Even So... said...

This is a combination of our posts from 5-13-08 and 5-14-08, put together and now with audio...it also is included in an entire sermon we preached with the same name, "Connection"...

Even So... said...

You have noticed that we now have audio for the posts, haven't you?