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Letter to the Pastor: How Much Are You Really Like the Lord?
by Joyce Reba Payne
Man or woman of God, How much do you really resemble the Lord Jesus Christ? Pastors do not have an easy job, you know it and I know it. After all look who they are supposed to be imitating: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You mean pastors are supposed to be like water-walking, miracle working, water-turned-into-wine Jesus? Yes, that is what the scripture says. And not only that but Jesus said they shall do “…greater works than these…because I go unto my Father” (Joh 14:12). Wow! Did Jesus really expect men to do greater works than He, the Sovereign God manifested in the flesh, had done? That is what He said. Did He really know what He was working with? Look at how Peter behaved; and he actually walked beside Jesus as miracles were performed before his eyes. After promising he would never leave the Lord regardless of how many others departed, Peter deserted the Lord and denied Him three times in His darkest hour. Peter never expected that he would do such a thing, but he did. Have you ever wondered why Jesus still trusted Peter with His ministry after that?
Someone Else Living in the Residence
The earthly mission of the Lord would be such a failure if it depended solely on man. Jesus said the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Now we all know that is right! So God must have had something else in mind when He left His precious ministry in the hands of men. Yes, surely He sent the Holy Spirit to lead and guide ministers and us, too, into all truth and that was definitely needed. But God had something else more powerful in mind than just the Spirit’s power available to help us. He said:
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Joh 14:17
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom 8:9
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Rom 8:10
No longer is God just with us (like in the Old Testament) but now He has taken the precious position of living in us for the hope of glory.
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Col 1:27
Now we have a whole different perspective on this ministry work. No longer is God just coming upon His ministers or walking with them, but God has promised in New Testament days that He would dwell in His ministers. God is willing to use all of heaven, itself, behind the man or woman of God that carries His gospel to the world. Surely there can be no hindrance with all heaven backing up God’s ministers! But remember, God gives us choice and we have to go through the straight gate and walk in the narrow way that leadeth to life (Mat 7:14).
The Choice We have to Make
Ministry can be done the right way or it can be done the wrong way, it is man’s choice (Pro 16:25). Not every one coming to ministry is God’s choice nor is everyone coming to God prepared with a heart for God. But one coming to do God’s work, in God’s way and with God’s help should have everything needed to accomplish a great work for God that brings glory to His name. God can be trusted to do His part if man would just do his.
God has promised to live in man to help him do the work of the kingdom, but man still has a choice. He has to submit to that power that is within him so that God can take first place. Therein lies so much of the reason why many ministers do not flourish in their ministry as they should. There is something about the flesh that does not want to yield its power but instead demands the right to be seen and receive the glory. Whereas God has taken the high place in man and reserves the glory for Himself, there is a conflict with who is in charge. So when you take center stage in the church, man or woman of God, who is really in charge? Is it God or is it you? Has the flesh been put to death in you or is your flesh still fighting to live. Tell that flesh: “Die, die; Christ must live and be glorified in me!”
We know how Jesus wrestled with His will in the Garden of Gethsemane before His flesh was to die on the cross. It was an agonizing death but He submitted to the will of the Father. And to think He did it all, not for Himself, but for you and for me! That’s revelatory in itself. Who of us would be willing to die for someone else, let alone an excruciating death! But Christ did it. He loved us so much that He submitted to death on the cross because He had you and me in mind. He saw us as we would be one day after receiving the Holy Spirit, wrapped up in His power and standing in the gap for others. For the victory He foresaw in us, He was willing to die on the cross in our place for our sins.
Now the exchange between His life and ours has been made in heaven so that we can come forth in victory. Are you willing to let your flesh die and allow Christ to be seen in you? God has promised us pastors according to His own heart (Jer 3:15)…which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” If you are a born again, anointed man or woman of God called to the office of pastor for God’s people, He has a lot riding on you. The victory of Christ and His ministry in you is depending on your decision.
Whose Face Do We See?
Every time the members of the church look toward the pulpit, they are expecting to see Christ, not you, but Christ. Yes, they may see your face but they are looking for something beyond your face. They want to see the face of their Lord. Is His Spirit upon you? Did you bask in His glory during your prayer time before coming to the pulpit? Who will speak to the people…you or Christ? Remember, well at least the tradition says that the high priest of the Old Testament had a cord tied around his leg just in case he was unable to stand before the presence of God in the holy place. So, supposedly, if the priest died, someone had to pull him out of there by this rope to keep from being exposed to death. Though we live in a dispensation of grace and Christ has paid the price for our sins, allowing us entrance before His presence; one should still count the cost of standing before a holy God and His people. It is a privilege to have the honor of representing the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It should not be taken lightly nor should the Lord be dishonored before His people. Remember Moses?
God is looking for worship and adoration from His people and the people are looking for the presence of the Lord so they can worship Him. Ministers should be anointed for service and ready to usher in the presence of God, whether they minister as preacher, singer or musician. Sometimes the minister will expect the people to prepare the atmosphere for preaching but anointed ministers should already have God’s presence with them to minister. Enoch walked with the presence of the Lord till God took him. Elijah knew God’s presence was with him as he challenged idol worshipers and performed miracles. Peter walked with such an anointing from the Spirit until just the shadow of Peter falling on the people would heal sick bodies. Smith Wigglesworth, a noted pioneer of the Pentecost Revival, so loved God that his intimacy with the Lord brought forth frequent manifestations of healing during his ministry. Jesus died to make this power and this presence available for every believer.
So when the anointed ministers, musicians and people come into the house of the Lord and get on one accord, the glory of the Lord will bless the house from top to bottom and side to side until it overflows like a river flooding every person with His power (1Ki 8:11). Why would any minister not seek the manifestation of this blessing? If your ministry does not reveal Jesus and you want His light to shine forth in you, let your flesh die so Christ can live. Make your flesh to bow down before the King because it is not worthy to stand before the presence of the Lord. Then you will find that this victory and spiritual liberation will empower you to say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20)”.
God bless you, man or woman of God. Let Christ shine in you!
Copyrighted by Joyce Reba Payne, 2013. All rights reserved.