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Thursday, July 8, 2010
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"Building Fences or Digging Wells?"
"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in My name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us" (Mark 9:38-40).
A friend told me about a method ranchers use to keep steers together out on the Great Plains. He explained that you can either build fences to keep them in or you can provide a deep watering hole with sufficient water and they will stay near the source of water. He shared this as an analogy concerning our outlook toward ministry. As we view our service for Christ and our spiritual impact on others we can either focus on building fences or digging wells.
Some churches and Christian organizations use their resources building fences. In this outlook other churches and similar ministries are seen as competition and a threat to their existing work. Sadly, a great percentage of time, energy, and expense is expended in merely building and maintaining the fences.
Other churches and Christian organizations use their resources digging wells to provide spiritual living water. This is surely a much more Christ-honoring strategy as we dig wells and encourage the partaking of life-giving water that people desperately need in the spiritually "sun-scorched land" in which we live.
I like that attitude in life, particularly in regard to ministry. I don't always see it though. Some churches, denominations and ministries are petty and exclusive. I once worked for a company that saw their "ministry" model as proprietary and other similar ministries posed a threat. But great churches and ministries, whose major interest is the Kingdom of God, want to see the Kingdom expanded, not restricted.
Today's verse has long intrigued me. The disciples had seen a man driving out demons in Christ's Name and told him to stop, apparently thinking they, alone, were doing the Lord's work. The problem, they expressed, was that "he was not one of us." That is; he was not one of the Twelve. They must have had a sense of proprietary use of Christ's Name!
I've long wondered where this man driving out demons was from. We do know from other Scriptures that Christ had sent out the seventy and there were 120 that came together in the Upper Room prior to the Day of Pentecost. So there were others who spread the Gospel and performed miracles when Christ dwelt on this earth. Where this man fit in is not specified, but apparently John and the other disciples saw his ministry as a threat. They reported this to the Lord and I think they had expected the Lord to pat them on the back and say with a smile and a nod, "Good job, boys."
But instead Christ essentially rebuked the disciples, "Do not stop him," and sets forth a great spiritual principle, "whoever is not against us is for us." Now, in all honesty, I do not fully understand all of what Christ is saying here but I do know that it is a strong rebuke against any proprietary or exclusive sense of ministry.
I want to bless others that serve Christ today. There are many ways we serve and some have ministries similar to mine. I want to bless and assist them if possible. I want them to reach many for Christ that I will never reach. That's how Brooksyne and I want our life and ministry to be regarded and we encourage you to have the same attitude, whatever type of ministry you have. If we are a "well-watered garden" we will draw others in and make the spiritual impact upon them that God has called us to do.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, in this age of competition and egocentricity help us to resist the mindset of the world. We're tempted to focus on big numbers, large budgets, expensive buildings, newest resources, impressive staff and other worldly comparisons of those who share in this calling to minister to our lost and dying world. When our focus is narrowed to imitating or competing with other ministry groups we lose sight of the One to whom we are honoring and our priorities become misaligned. We want to thank You for the scores of people and ministries that are making a tremendous spiritual impact for Your Kingdom, many of them unheralded and unseen. As Your followers, move us beyond pettiness, jealousy, and possessiveness to appreciate and affirm those who might have a different way of presenting the Gospel as long as it is in accordance with the Scripture. Help us to support and pray for one another as we carry forth the light of God's Word. You have called each one of us to lift up Your name and You will draw people to Yourself. As we seek You above all else You will be our daily guide and out of our hearts will flow abundant springs of living water that will not run dry even in a drought stricken land. Amen.
Study note: I feel another passage dealing with this concept is from Philippians 1:15-18 "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental ResourcesClick on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go, Dear Lord" Video This was song we often sang in Bible College at mission services.
"Use Me" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
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