Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Giving up for ministry

Have you ever had to give up anything to "go up higher" in your ministry and for God's Big Idea for your life? I'm not just talking to those of us in professional ministry, either. There are plenty of lay people that have sacrificed much for the cause of Christ.

Ezekiel was an Old Testament prophet who gave up a lot, especially his own personal dignity in order to minster to the Jews he was called to serve.

Ezekiel had to:
  • serve with the Jewish exiles in a foreign land (Ezekiel 1:1).
  • minister to bull-headed, stubborn people (Ezekiel 3:4-11).
  • be confined to his home and tied up with ropes (Ezekiel 3:24-27).
  • lie on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 days, while he was tied up - I'm guessing he had severe back problems! (Ezekiel 4:4-8).
  • cook his food over cow poop - Yummy! (Ezekiel 4:9-17).
  • shave his head and beard with a sword - Ouch! (Ezekiel 5:1).
  • pack his belongings, carry them on his shoulders, and dig through a city wall (Ezekiel 12:3-7).
  • eat and drink while he shuddered in fear (Ezekiel 12:17-20).
  • witness the death of his wife, the "delight of his eyes" (God took her home early), and he was not to mourn for her (Ezekiel 24:15-24).
Hey, when was the last time you had to cook your food over poop or lie on your side tied up for 430 days? The next time your having a pity party for yourself over how much you've given up in order to serve God, just think of Ezekiel, and then count your blessings!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV).

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