Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
I am called to ministry. Immediately upon reading these words, many images probably came to your mind. Writer. Speaker. Teacher. Pastor. The list of offices endless from religious to simple government. However, I find that the more I am sure of who I am it becomes clear that the picture painted in my mind changes. I felt the tug on my heart to full-time Christian service as a teenager. Just out of high school, I was employed with one of the largest Baptist churches in the country. I was doing ministry. I was not a minister. Over the years, I tried to push the calling of God into the past. I missed it surely in my wanderings, failures, shortcomings and imperfection. I could make the cut. I wasn’t “good” enough to lead others to the Lord.
I wake up around 4:30 AM during the week to spend time with my Jesus before heading off to work. I need Him every single day. I need to know that my Lord is with me. To believe that He is in complete control of this chaotic existence called life. At 4:31 AM, my phone buzzed with a text message. Many times, our son who is a police officer working through the night will call or text on his way home. I am the only one up so get the pleasure of his company. Not today… it was a brokenhearted friend. My heart breaks for her. During the exchange, I share the things that I have come to believe through a completely broken heart that must rely on Jesus to keep together every day. So much hurt… So much brokenness… So much Lord… I hear Him speaking softly through the dark…”You were made for such a time as this…”
What if…ministry is not an official position? What if ministry has nothing to do with a title, paycheck, or keys? What if it didn’t offer a platform or any kind of affirmation at all? What if it is not a sermon or good preaching? What if it is nothing more than opening our heart to others and allowing the Spirit that keeps us together to pour out on them? The Lord has anointed me. Not like Jesus, but with the exact same Spirit. There is only one Jesus. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Son of God. God is pleased with Him. He is the access point of my salvation. Walking through His Blood and showered in His Grace, I am made right in the sight of my God. Apart from Him I can do nothing. Some days I think I would not be able to take one more step or draw a single breath without my Savior.
Today as I read Isaiah 61 again, I realize that anointing is for the broken. Those who have it all together do not need it. Anointing must flow into an open and waiting vessel. We come packaged with selfish souls, sinful hearts and armors of pride. Crying out to God use me yet never knowing how great the price. Jesus could not be considered a “sacrifice” until He was broken for sin. If He came to this world, yet decided that He did not want to die – we would all be lost and never given the opportunity of grace. Jesus decided to give up His Life so that I could have mine. He was broken for me. He is my example. In order to fulfill our calling as believers, brokenness is required. Ministry is to administer the same anointing that Christ gave up on the Cross. He said, “It is finished.” This was not a weak statement but a profession of authority. It was his victory speech. Then Jesus released His Spirit to us. The anointing now available to men and women. The call of ministry was given when Jesus made the way for us. To know true ministry is to know Jesus.
John 12:44-50 (NLT) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
Jesus was a preacher. He said only what His Father said. He did only what His Father told Him to do. He told the people that day, “if you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me.” Our message means nothing if our life does not reflect the Truth. We preach a sermon each and every day in how we live and who we love. My sole purpose is to introduce others to my Father. Sound familiar? The Gospel is good enough. There is no need to add to it or take from it just know it, believe it and live it. It speaks for itself. Too many words filled with false teaching and empty promises have closed the ears of this world to the message. People are tired of religion that offers plenty of rules and regulations but little hope. Yelling from a platform or shouting through a microphone is not enough to share one’s anointing. It is in the quiet conversation with a hurting heart. It is offering words of encouragement to the one who stands off to the side. Jesus preached a gospel far more telling with His Life. We must do the same.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
Jesus is the Healer. I have experienced firsthand miracles. Our youngest daughter was miraculously healed of asthma when she was two years old. The kind of healing that happens in an instant. It was crazy. It was real. It is medically documented. Our younger son was diagnosed with cancer when he was 19 years old. He relapsed four times before he entered remission. Though his body is now cancer-free, thank you Jesus, he has many infirmities secondary to five rounds of poison being pumped through his body and maximum dose radiation. His testimony is his life. When he walks in a room, there is hope. Yet he is not complete or made whole yet.
It is important to understand our role as healer to the world. We offer hope. Jesus Christ is the Hope of the world. Our bodies will die. It is our heart in need of healing. A hard heart cannot experience such a miracle. It is through brokenness that it receives. What if ministry is not waiting for the Power of God to fall on a place or in an arena but rather for us to look for every opportunity to share the love of Jesus through encouragement, affirmation, acceptance, and love? Could it be that the Healer is in us looking for a way to pour out on others while we are just sitting around waiting on Him?
Jesus is our healer. He is our hope. I must never forget the “good things” he does for me beginning with forgiving my sins and heals all my diseases especially the one eating at my soul. My life is renewed just knowing Him. I must share with others the hope that I have found in Him.
John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Galatians 5:1-2 (NLT) So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
Jesus is the Deliverer. Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. Freedom from religion was definitely a work accomplished on the Cross. Jesus delivered us from sin, shame, guilt and ultimately death in that moment. He also bestowed heavenly authority and power to us in His Grace. It is more than enough to overcome every obstacle and barrier in our life. God’s Word brings us complete and absolute freedom from sin to live with Him forever.
Is the gospel shared freedom to the captive or an exchange of one cell for another? If the gospel that I preach is not Good News, then what is the point? If it does not offer freedom, why would anyone want it? People need a Savior. The enemy is constantly condemning us and reminding us of all our weaknesses, insecurities and shortcomings all the while massaging our flesh and training it to fight for its life. What do we offer that is any different? There is nothing I can do to earn my salvation it is the Gift of God through Jesus Christ.
As Christ-like deliverers, I have heavenly authority to proclaim two things: 1) Peace with God and 2) War against the enemy. It is my profound privilege to set captives free by offering the Good News of Jesus Christ without my own terms and conditions. We are to reach in the miry clay, fiery trials, and depths of darkness and pull people out of bondage and into the Light. The Light of God is Jesus. He magnifies unconditional love. I must reflect this truth to be a deliverer as I am anointed to do.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Jesus is the Comforter. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. The Matthew Henry Commentary offered this tidbit about the Comforter. “The holy cheerfulness of Christians is their beauty and a great ornament of their profession.” He goes on to say that the oil of joy given to us by the Lord comes with the garment of praise. One will be accompanied by the other. The only comfort that I can offer a broken heart or devastated soul is Jesus. I cannot explain it just offer them the love and consideration in every situation and circumstance that Christ has given me. Unconditional love that comforts the heart and soothes the soul.
Love has a distinct look. It has defining characteristics demonstrated by Jesus Christ that must be the job description of ministry. Love. Love some more. Love when it hurts. Love when you don’t want to. Love more than self. Love over pride. Love. Love is greater than faith and hope. God is love. We cannot be His Children without it. My confidence in God’s Love is essential in influencing others to allow the Lord close enough to be their comfort, become their friend and to fall in love with the One who loves them most. If I don’t love others, how will they ever love Him? If my actions and attitudes do not relay any form of comfort or relief, what’s the point? They know what condemnation, rejection and isolation feel like. They want to experience real love.
James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Jesus Christ is the planter. “All that Christ does for us is to make us God’s people, and some way serviceable to him as living trees, planted in the house of the Lord, and flourishing in the courts of our God; and all this that he may be glorified—that we may be brought to glorify him by a sincere devotion and an exemplary conversation (for herein is our Father glorified, that we bring forth much fruit), that others also may take occasion from God’s favor shining on his people, and his grace shining in them, to praise him, and that he may be forever glorified in his saints.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)
I am the girl that plants shy away from when I walk through the garden center. I have a brown thumb. It is the mark of death to all plant-life. It’s a wonder that the Lord allows me to parent people when my record with nature is terrible, oh for grace. On a more serious note, planting takes patience. It requires effort with only a promise. Each seed planted is with the hope of productivity. We plant. We water. God gives the increase. What are you sowing? Jesus was sowing life. Seeds of Truth that would grow into promises. We cannot plant what we do not have seed for. His Spirit produces the Fruit in us that becomes our seeds to plant. Sowing and reaping occur whether intentional or not. We sow seeds in our life every day. Those sown of the Spirit produce life…life abundantly. Ministry is sowing the seeds of righteousness including faith, hope and love at all times, in every season, to all people. It is not a performance in a particular building according to a certain doctrine. Ministry is life and how we choose to live it.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT) Now these are the gifts Christ gave 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. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
I am a minister. I am called to ministry. You are called and equipped if Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord to share the Gospel with the world each day. You may never be called pastor, preacher, teacher, prophet, apostle or messenger but you are all that and more. Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world. You have Light in your heart that will free many who live in absolute darkness. Will you share it? Will you answer the call to worship? Will you accept the anointing including oil of joy and garment of praise that gains the attention of the weak and broken? See the Gospel is in you. You are an Ambassador of God in the perfect place at just the right time to set captives free and offer healing to the broken. The rest, my friend, is up to you and me.
2 Corinthians 3:3 (NLT) Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.