Tips For New Christians That Are In The Ministry
Welcome to those of you that are young in the faith of Jesus Christ. I remember with fondness those years of my life. The passion and zeal of a new believer is such a great inspiration to the body of Christ. I would like to give you a few pointers in witnessing and how to get started in the "ministry."
There is a popular sentiment in Christendom that the "ministry" is solely the place of; professionals, pastor's, deacons, scholar's, missionaries, etc. This is not true! Every Christian is in the ministry, right now where you are. Your sphere of influence is your mission field.
There are many ways for you to be about our Father's Business of proclaiming the Gospel to every creature. I am sure that your church has many ministries in evangelism that you can serve God in. I will enumerate some helpful reminders that I have learned in my walk with Christ. I pray that they might help you as you glorify God, by His grace and for His glory alone.
1) You must become a person of prayer and Bible study, these are the essentials my friend. Without these you are just doing things in your own strength, your flesh if you will.
2) Get in the habit of confessing you sins as soon as you commit them. Always confess your sins before you read God's word. You don't want some sin quenching the Spirit as you are trying to study the Bible.
3) Always pray to God for guidance before you witness to a person or anything that you do for that matter. Start by sharing the Gospel with your family and friends. Give them Christmas cards that actually have the Gospel in them, you can find these at most Christian book stores. Give them books about Christianity, here are two that might help: The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict and The Case for Christ.
When you do this be prepared for some of them to get upset with you, don't let this bother you my friend. Jesus had this to say:
"Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of mans sake."
"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."
1 John 3:13
"They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God: he that knows God hears us, he that is not of God hears not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."
1 John 4:5-6
4) If people are not responsive to the Gospel, do not take this personal. They are not rejecting you, they are rejecting God. Keep them in your prayers. Remember, God gave us a free will, and He will honor it. Ultimately there are two classes of people in the end, those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "Thy will be done."
Could you imagine God forcing people against their will into heaven? That, my friend, would be cruel, and worse than Hell itself.
5) When you are witnessing to a person it might help you to use use the "Roman Road." It will help you out if you are nervous about forgetting where in the Bible certain things are. It is very easy to remember my friend.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
6) Be very careful to not overdue it! If a person says, "I don't want to talk about Jesus, Religion, etc," respect what they are saying. You may drive them away if you continue to push the issue. Rather, say to them, "Ok, I will be here if you ever have any questions about this." God converts a person, not us or our arguments. Just remember to keep them in your prayers.
7) Get a hold of some good Gospel tracts that clearly speak of sin and our separation from God. Be wary of what organization that track represents, you will be responsible to God for handing out a tract made by a bad or false group.
I use a Bible tract with much of my Homepage Gospel message on it. Many years ago I got a couple of Bible tracts from my church but they did not present the Gospel very well. So I modified them to my liking and I started passing them out. Before that I had hand written a Gospel tract and made hundreds of copies and I placed them on; cars, telephones, bathrooms, and every other place imaginable.
When you hand it to a person say, "Have you gotten one of these?" If they want to talk that is great! Most of the time they will just say thanks and walk away, pray for them! Some might get angry and throw it on the ground, that's okay as well.
If you are not up to handing them out to people, that is okay! Not all Christians are called to go door to door, but we all are called to preach the Gospel to every creature! Go to a mall and leave the tracts on cars. Leave them in bathrooms, waiting rooms, gas stations, telephone booths, inside magazines, you can send tracts in your bills. Use your imagination my friend!
Here is what Charles Spurgeon said about handing out tracts, "You can only give away a tract in the street. Don't say, "I won't do that." Souls have been saved by the distribution of tracts and sermons. Scatter them, scatter them--they will be good seed. You know not where they may fall."
8) Get wise counsel from a mature Christian in your church that has actually done these things. You will be amazed at the number of Christians who will discourage this type of witnessing. Keep your focus on God my friend, you will have to stand before Him when all is said and done, not them.
It is called, "The Great commission," not "The Great Suggestion." Jesus said, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," Mark 16:15.
Some may say that, "God doesn't use tracts." Well, God used one in my situation, and I have heard of many others as well.
Here is a paragraph from my testimony describing what happened:
"During my next school week in the fifth grade class a girl out of the blue gave me a "tract" during class. The girl’s name was Leticia and I had a childhood crush on her ever since I had first laid eyes on her.
The Gospel tract explained that our sin separates us from a Holy and Righteous God. It also explained that our Heavenly Father loved us so much that he sent His only Son to die in our place and that He wanted fellowship with me."
9) Stay in God's word my friend, this is the key! Never, never, let a day go by without reading your Bible. The same goes for prayer! The good thing about "putting yourself out there" by sharing the gospel is that it forces you to trust in God and grow. People will ask you questions, this will promote the study of many subjects, such as: evolution, historical evidence for Jesus, archaeology, manuscript evidence, Why is there evil?, What about the Crusades and Inquisition?, Biblical prophecy, etc.
10) So, proceed with the confidence, knowing that you have a rational faith based on evidence and historical facts. Many unbelievers will try to accuse you of believing in stories and fables fit for a kid, you can look them in the eye and confidently say, "You don't know the facts, do you?"
My experience with witnessing is that when they ask, "How do you know that is true?" or "What do you base that statement on?" I reply, "The evidence" at this they are shocked! What do you mean the evidence? What evidence? There is no evidence they say! So many unbelievers have not heard a rational defense of the gospel that when you claim that it is supported by the facts and evidence they are astounded at the temerity to make such a claim!
Let me make one thing clear, we cannot prove that God exists, for if we could that would make faith void! We can only show evidence that supports the veracity our faith. Faith is still required, but it is not a blind leap into the dark, rather, it is a step into the light, it is the logical conclusion to the evidence.
11) The one book that I lean on most besides my Bible is Matthew Henry's "Commentary on the Whole Bible" complete and unabridged. Whenever I am having trouble with the meaning of a verse of scripture Matthew Henry's Commentary is the first one I grab every time. It is timeless and many Christians would do themselves well by using it as a valuable reference. 12) Nearly all "christian" programming on television is false and/or filled with so much error that it is useless. I can only think of maybe one or two pastors on "christian" television that are any good. Most of these "christian" channels are owned and operated by Word Faith/Prosperity preachers. Avoid "christian" television at all cost! I have Direct T.V. and there are about seven or eight "christian" television stations. There are false teachers on every single one of them all day long. Under any circumstances do not give your money directly to a "christian" television station during one of their infamous telethons! Give your donation directly to one of the ministries listed below that you listen to. I will list a few pastors/teachers that can be seen on television that I recommend if you must watch t.v. for bible teaching; Adrian Rogers (Very good teachings), Kirk Cameron (an inspiration to preach the Gospel), D. James Kennedy (solid, but sometimes long-winded), John MacArthur (hands down the most faithful shepherd to God's Word we have today), Greg Laurie (I miss the old Greg Laurie who spoke out against false teachings. I almost don't recommend him any longer because of his recent preaching from the pulpit that talks about American Idol and other popular television shows more than getting into the meat of the Word. I don't listen to a pastor to be entertained, I want to be taught God's Word. Many times it seems Greg Laurie is more concerned with telling jokes and not "making waves" than protecting God's sheep from false teachers.)
Pray to God for; wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and understanding. Ask God that you will not be deceived by false teachings and He will direct your steps. You need to be mature in the word and eat the meat. We all start as babes in Christ drinking the Milk of the Word but we need to grow and be able to discern for ourselves.
"That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ,"
"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able,"
1 Corinthians 3:1-2.
13) Many Evangelical church websites that I have observed have very vague Doctrinal Statements. An Evangelical church Doctrinal Statement should be very clear with scripture references to back up any claims.
Why are so many of them vague? They don't want to offend? They don't want to sound preachy? They don't believe the great truths of the Protestant Faith? They want to appeal to as many people as possible? They don't want to offend their "brothers" in other faiths that claim to be Christian?
If an Evangelical church Doctrinal Statement is not; clear, precise, and full of scripture references I can almost guarantee the preaching from the pulpit will be, seeker friendly, watered down, and prepared by the pastor to itch the ears of its hearers.
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry," 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
About 25 years ago a Christian mentor of mine advised me to get a Doctrinal Statement of a church in order to determine if the church was biblical. That was good advice back then but now it is very hard to discern what a church teaches just from a Doctrinal Statement.
Why? I will give you a prime example. There is a very popular "Christian" teacher on television and his church has many thousands of members. The problem with this "Pastor" is that me is a Modalist/Oneness Pentecostal that denies the Trinity. It is impossible to knowingly deny the Trinity and still be a Christian (Athanasian Creed). Now, this "Pastor's" Doctrinal Statement on his church website is deceptive and it gives the impression he believes in the Trinity when he does not. In a case like this it is very hard to determine that this "Pastor" denies the Trinity and therefore is leading people astray by his modalist beliefs.
In many other cases false teachers and false religions will use biblical terms but they will pour their own meanings into them. In other words, a Doctrinal Statement might appear orthodox at face value but the words in them do not mean what is commonly understood.
14) One thing Satan does very well is corrupt any good thing that he can with; pride, sin, or excess. In the life of a Christian these attacks by the Devil can take on many forms. One of the most frequent is to fill the believer with pride instead of giving God the glory. Slowly the Christian will stop relying on God in prayer and they will begin to do "God's Work" in their own power in order to garner the praise of man (Galatians 1:10, John 12:43).
Satan will corrupt a spiritual gift of God in a Christian's life the second they stop giving God the glory and relying on Him for every ounce of strength. The second a Christian stops walking in the Spirit they are in danger of Satanic and worldly influences on their live's.
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."
I will give you an example from my perspective, Discerning of Spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10) is my spiritual gift and I fight with my flesh and Satan every day because they want to corrupt this good gift from God.
The Devil and the flesh can corrupt a Spiritual Gift in one of two extremes. A Christian with the gift of Discerning of Spirits can become legalistic and claim everybody who doesn't do it like them is in error and living in sin.
You have probably observed those "Independent Fundamental" churches who believe if things are not done exactly like they believe then those Christians need to repent. For Example; a woman can't wear pants or makeup, worship teams in churches cannot use instruments, if music has any type of sinful "beats" it is satanic, all Christian music is satanic except for their version, and every other pastor is a false teacher or deceiver except for their little clique, etc.
Granted, most popular pastors on television are Word Faith/Prosperity teachers but there still are good ones out there. For example; John MacArthur, Adrian Rogers, D. James Kennedy, and Greg Laurie are four pastors on television who teach the Bible.
Most "Independent Fundamental" pastors would claim that two or three of those were false teachers. That is a prime example of Satan corrupting a Spiritual Gift and using it for his purposes.
There is a popular Internet Forum where these "Independent Fundamental" pastors and laymen congregate and it is amazing how carnal they act. They frequently fight and call each other names like heathens and I could only imagine what an unbeliever would think if they ever witnessed professing Christians acting like drunken sailors on liberty in a foreign port. If any of them are actually Born Again Satan has blinded them to the point that they are actually doing his bidding.
The other extreme Satan and the flesh will use against a Christian is pacifism. The milk toast, effeminate, ecumenical, false piety, and all to common refrain taken out of context of "Judge not, that you be not judged," Matthew 7:1. Never taking a verse out of context is biblical hermeneutics 101. Keep reading to verse 5, "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
What Jesus is saying is we cannot make judgements without first taking the beam out of our own eye. The moment we examine ourselves we will see clearly enough to critique others according to biblical precepts (Matthew 7:5).
An example of a Matthew 7:1-5 hypocrite would be a Christian man telling his married friend that he shouldn't be looking at scantily clad women in television commercials when he himself is addicted to porn. In other words, don't ever criticize a person in a specific area when you struggle with that same sin in a much larger degree.
Another thing to consider is for a Christian to claim, "Judge not, that you be not judged," they are actually judging! In other words, they are telling you not to judge while judging you! That is the height of hypocrisy! Jesus commanded Christians to judge in the Gospel of John, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment," John 7:24.
Pray to God for; wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and understanding. Ask God that you will not be deceived by false teachings and He will direct your steps. Ask God to put a hedge about you (Job 1:8-10) and to direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6).
15) No matter what a professing Christian has to say to you never let it discourage you. Once you become a Christian the Devil will attack you to try and make you unfruitful. One of Satan's cruelest tools to attack you is other Christians (even pastors), don't be discouraged. Know the Bible for yourself, be strong in the Word. Even if you are going through a dark time at the moment focus on Jesus and what He has done for you.
I have a few stories where I was completely and biblically in the right yet I was misstreated by pastors. One pastor treated me bad because of a false rumor started by an unbeliever that I had been witnessing to and passed along to another Christian in our Church. The pastor didn't come to me and seek the truth but he took the word of an unbeliever who had a history of mentally unstable behavior.
Another time a pastor in a small town church blatantly ignored my wife who was extending her hand to shake so he could shake the hand of a "Big Fish" doctor directly behind her. Little did he know that doctor was the one who killed my wife's father during a surgery because of his gross negligence (This was adjudicated in our favor).
As you could guess my wife was very discouraged by this but I told her to look towards Jesus and not man. This incident was never mentioned to anybody in our church because I knew God was in control of the entire situation.
This same pastor came up to me in the church while I was preparing the weekly newsletters to be mailed out and he said something very loud to me within earshot of others about a situation that was supposed to be a private prayer request. I was a little shocked but I ignored the spirit behind him and I continued on with my work. There were some other instances of this pastor's carnal behavior directed towards us that we just took in stride.
A few weeks later this same pastor was actually deported to his country of origin by our government. He was made the pastor of my small church by the Deacons even though he wasn't even a U.S. citizen yet. The Deacons had hopes his citizenship would be approved and that is why they selected him.
Nothing had to be said to my wife about that deported pastor after that because God was in control of the situation and He handled it. You see, I didn't; cry, moan, gossip, or complain about the carnal actions of my pastor. I simply prayed to God and He took care of him in the way He saw best.
That is how you need to deal with these situations. Christians are far from perfect and we make our fair share of mistakes. Besides that, there are many people in Protestant churches who claim to be Christians and they are not. Remember, keep your eyes on Jesus and just ignore professing Christians who are doing Satan's bidding.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"
Othe Helpful Scripture Verses:
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world."
1 Peter 5:6-9
"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them."
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
"But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, "Let us go after other gods'--which you have not known--"and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him."
"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted."
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
2 Timothy 4:2-4
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him......For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 11-13
"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine....These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints."
"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:13-15
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
2 Timothy 3:16-17
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before."
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."
2 Peter 2:1-3
"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."
2 Corinthians 2:17
"Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
"Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment."
"And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."
"All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant."
"For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
"For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle."
"Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened."
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD."
"They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD."
"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
"And the priest's custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD."
2 Samuel 2:12-17
"Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways. And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is smitten. Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, afore he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb. Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance. Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land? Ye stand upon your sword, ye work abomination, and ye defile every one his neighbour's wife: and shall ye possess the land? Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence. For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through. Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed. Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
"And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;
Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them."
The Master was searching for a vessel to use; On the shelf there were many - which one would He choose? "Take me", cried the gold one, "I'm shiny and bright, I'm of great value and I do things just right. My beauty and luster will outshine the rest, And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the best!"
The Master passed on with no word at all; He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall; "I'll serve You, dear Master, I'll pour out Your drink, and I'll be at Your table whenever You dine, My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true, And my silver will always compliment You."
Unheeding the Master passed on to the brass, It was wide mouthed and shallow, and polished like glass. "Here! Here!" cried the vessel, "I know I will do, Place me on Your table for all men to view."
"Look at me", called the goblet of crystal so clear, "My transparency shows my contents so dear, Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride, And I'm sure I'll be happy in Your house to abide."
The Master came next to a vessel of wood, Polished and carved, it solidly stood. "You may use me, dear Master", the wooden bowl said, "But I'd rather You used me for fruit, not for Bread!"
Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay. Empty and broken it helplessly lay. No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose, To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.
"Ah! This is the vessel I've been hoping to find, I will mend and use it and make it all Mine." "I need not the vessel with pride of its self; Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf; Nor the one who is big mouthed and shallow and loud; Nor one who displays his contents so proud; Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right; But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might."
Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay, Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day. Spoke to it kindly, "There's work you must do, Just pour out to others as I pour into you."
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
2 Corinthians 4:7
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God."
2 Corinthians 3:5
"But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."
"If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:11
"John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven...He must increase, but I must decrease."
John 3:27, 30
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:26-31