Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday's Ministry Musings: Preach What is Lasting

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer,
the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they
laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask
alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into
the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him,
as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them,
expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and
gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
rise up and walk!”
(Acts 3:1-6)

I think I lost 75 bucks. Saturday night my wife and I decided to go to a neighboring town to buy some things for my son's room. Before we went I had hoped to go to the bank to cash two checks totalling $75. The banks was closed, I stuck the checks in my pocket, that's the last time I saw them. No clue where they are now, probably in a parking lot somewhere or in another guys bank account.

Needless to say I have been a tad bummed about "throwing away" 75 dollars like that. And to be honest a tad stressed about financial things. Then I read this, "When covetousness seeks to chain the heart to things passing away, grace empowers us to enjoy the One who is not only necessary, but enough. And not just barely enough but overwhelming joy and satisfaction." (Dave Harvey in Worldliness, page 115-116).

After reading this it hit me in a tangible way how fleeting money and "stuff" is. I can drop $75 out of my pocket and it is gone forever. I can't drop Jesus out of my pocket and He is gone forever. Jesus is eternal and because of this He is also sufficient for all things. Yeah, maybe I could use the $75, but in 150 years I doubt it will even be a passing thought.

Rewind some 2,000 years. A man that is crippled and confined to begging asks Peter and John for that which fades--money. He does not ask for healing. He does not ask for a changed life. He certainly does not ask for Jesus and being swept up in the grand purpose of praising God. His "felt need" is a few coins (who knows what he intended to spend it on) to get him through the day. He will be back at the gate tomorrow asking for more of that which fades and it seems he is content with that.

Notice what Peter and John do. Instead of answering his fading desire they answer the depths of his soul--the desires he never even thought about desiring. Two very different thoughts were happening as the apostles gazed at him. The beggar thought he was getting alms. The apostles wanted to give him something deeper. And here is essentially what they say to him, "We do not have the temporary, but we do have the eternal, and just so you know that get up and walk".

Perhaps you are wondering what "rise up and walk" has to do with the eternal. Look at the result of shows us that "rise up and walk" is not the end. Here is the aim:

"And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his
feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." (Acts 3:7-10)
The aim was worship in the temple. The aim was proclaiming the excellencies of the God that causes a lame man to walk and a dead man to live. This is the eternal which the "rise up and walk" leads to. Money would have faded. Even walking fades. But worship endures forever.

Here is the lesson for our mission: follow the example of Peter and John and give what endures forever. The people that we minister to have a ton of felt needs; some legit and some immature and silly. Yes, we minister in love. Yes, we love people and do what is best for them. And sometimes what is best for them is losing 75.00 to see the beauty and eternal worth of Jesus.

I close with this quote from John Piper:

"People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majest of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God's greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: 'Show me thy glory!'" (Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching, page 13)

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