This week in our morning revival time with the Lord we come to the matters of Ministering to the Lord to enjoy Him as the hidden manna, the budding rod, and the law of life. We need to be those who minister not just to the house of God but minister to the Lord.
We need to minister to the Lord for the building of God, which is the corporate expression of the Triune God. To minister to the Lord simply means that whatever we do in our service for the Lord is for the Lord’s sake, satisfaction, heart’s desire, happiness, goal, pleasure, and glory.
All our service to the Lord needs to be initiated by God, otherwise it is possible – according to Num. 18:1, that we may sin against the Lord in our service of him.
The initiation of the Lord’s work should be according to God’s perfect will, the advancement of His work should be according to God’s power, and the result of God’s work should always be the glory of God, the corporate expression of the Triune God in radiant glory.
Everything we do must come out of from Him (according to His perfect will), must be through Him (according to His power), and must be unto Him (for His radiant expression), as per Rom. 11:36.
Any work for God that is initiated by man and not by God, regardless how much it is “for the Lord”, is a mere religious activity devoid of the presence of Christ. We don’t want to start anything for the Lord, even though it is for Him, for if we initiate anything apart from the Lord, the Lord’s presence is not with us.
What we want to do is be filled with the presence of God.
The principle of God’s work and our working for God is seen clearly with David in 2 Sam. 7; he was zealous to build a temple for God, but God rejected his good intentions – for He wanted to build David a house, and out of this inner working, someone and something will come out for the building of God.
Our heart and intentions to do something for God and build His house are good and acceptable, but our decision to do something for God is not acceptable.
God doesn’t want us to decide anything on His behalf; He wants us to love Him, wait for His command, and receive His revelation before we do anything.
Whoever cannot stop working for the sake of God cannot work for the sake of God (M. E. Barber once said). We need to minister to the Lord by taking Him as our source and letting Him initiate, and all the power for the work should be from Him, so that the result would be unto Him.
Are we Ministering to the Lord Himself or are we Ministering to His House?
In Ezek. 44:10-11, and 15 the Lord makes a distinction between two kinds of people who serve Him: the first ones are the Levites who minister to Him in the house of God and who also minister to the people, and the second one is the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who minister to the Lord.
There is a great difference between ministering to the Lord and ministering to His house. The question is, are we ministering to the Lord Himself or are we ministering to His house?
The Levites who minister to the house of God went far away from the Lord as Israel went away after their idols, yet they minister to the house of God in slaughtering the burnt offering, offering the sacrifice for the people, and standing before them to minister to them.
We need to be those who do not go far away from the Lord after idols but come back to Him, come forward to Him. An idol is not merely something outward but anything within us that we love more than the Lord, anything that replaces Him in our life (Ezek. 14:3 – idols are in the heart).
Those who set up idols in their heart are estranged from God in their heart; they may outwardly seek the Lord, but they may not find Him.
As seen in Jer. 2:13, in God’s eyes His people can commit two evils: forsaking Him as the fountain of living waters, and hewing out for ourselves cisterns – broken cisterns which hold no water.
In His economy God intends to be the fountain, the source of living waters, so that He may dispense Himself into us for our enjoyment, with the goal that He may gain a counterpart, an enlargement, an expression.
However, we may be away from God, of we may be hewing out cisterns, that is, having a lot of human toil for something that is not God, something that tries to replace God as our enjoyment. Apart from God Himself as the living water nothing can satisfy our thirst or make us God’s counterpart!
Yet the Lord has mercy on us, brings us back to Himself into His house, and makes us His serving ones. As those who are brought back by God to Himself, we serve Him. In our service of the Lord we need to consider: are we ministering to the Lord or are we merely ministering to the house?
In God’s eyes, there’s not only the ministry to the house but there’s a better ministry: the ministry to the Lord!
What He is looking for is not many people who are busy taking care of so many practical things in His house; He wants us to minister to Him, serve Him.
Laboring is very important: we need to take care of so many activities in the church life, but do we minister to the Lord, or do we minister to His house?
God wants to gain some who “minister to Me” (Ezek. 44:15) – He wants many who minister to the Lord Himself. He is looking for the small minority, the sons of Zadok, who belong to God, minister to God, and come close to the Lord to minister not just to His house but to the Lord Himself.
Lord Jesus, we come forward to You to take You as the unique fountain of living waters to quench our thirst and make us part of Your enlargement, Your counterpart. Only You can satisfy our hunger and thirst. We want to forsake any idols in our heart and come to You. Oh Lord, we love You, we want to seek after You, and we want to be the sons of Zadok who minister to the Lord. Save us from merely laboring and working for You outwardly, taking care of many things, yet not ministering to the Lord. Make us those who are ministering to the Lord day by day.
Ministering to the Lord by Giving Him the First Place and by Focusing only on Him
Ministering to the Lord doesn’t mean that we neglect the house of God; rather, those who minister to the Lord also preach the gospel to save sinners, help the brothers and sisters to make progress, and are involved with many practical things, but their one goal is to be for the Lord.
Ministering to the Lord means that, in all the things we do for Him in the church, Christ is our only goal, our only focus.
Many believers feel that, as long as they help with speaking the gospel to others for them to be saved and join the church, that is good enough – this is the extent to which they would serve the Lord. But there’s something deeper than ministering to the house of God – there is the ministering to the Lord.
Ministering to the Lord doesn’t exclude doing the many necessary things we need to do in the church life, but our heart in doing these things is for the Lord, and our goal is the Lord Himself.
Our unique goal in our living and work for the Lord is Christ Himself; we treasure men for the Lord’s sake, we preach the gospel for the Lord’s sake, and we help others to progress in their spiritual life for the Lord’s sake.
Our focus is not our work for the Lord; our focus is the Lord Himself. We come to the Lord, enjoy Him, are filled and saturated with Him, and we minister to the Lord even as we do this and that, the necessary things in the church life.
The Apostle Paul was such a one; he testified in Phil. 1:25 that, even though he personally desired to go and be with the Lord, he was confident that the Lord will let him continue be with the saints for their progress and joy of faith.
He knew that he will remain with the saints because he was a channel of supply, and when he was with the saints, they would be helped in their growth in life and they would have the joy of the faith, that is, the enjoyment of Christ.
What Paul did was not merely to help the saints in their spiritual progress but he did everything for the Lord – he pursued toward the goal (Phil. 4:13), which is the fullest enjoyment and gaining of Christ. He was centered on the Lord.
May we be those like Paul who think the one thing (Phil. 2:2), the subjective knowledge and experience of Christ. Our focus should be the Lord Himself; we should pursue Him to gain Him, and in everything we do Christ should be our goal.
If we come to the Lord’s presence and we focus only on Him, we will spontaneously be able to minister to the brothers and sisters also.
The question of whether or not we are ministering to the Lord hinges on whether or not the Lord occupies the first place in our heart. Where is our heart, and what is our heart set on? Is our heart set on the Lord, or is it set on working for the Lord? Does the Lord have the first place in our heart?
Outwardly we may do many good things, serving in the church, but what about our heart? Our motive tells everything about our situation, and our situation hinges on why we do things.
Lord Jesus, we want to minister to the Lord by giving You the first place in our heart and by focusing only on You. Lord, occupy the first place in our heart. We give You the preeminence, and we want to do everything out of You, through You, and unto You. You are our only focus, our only goal. We just want to gain You, be filled with You, and enjoy You more for the Body. Save us from merely ministering to the house of God without having our heart set on You and without having You as our goal. Re-center us, Lord, and recalibrate us so that we may focus on You and give You the first place in our heart!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ed Marks for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 11, “Ministering to the House or to God?” pp. 784-785, 789, 785-786; as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-study of Ezekiel (2), msg. 9 (week 21 in the HWMR), Ministering to the Lord to Enjoy Him as the Hidden Manna, the Budding Rod, and the Law of Life .
- Hymns on this topic:
# I give You the first place in all things by faith. / Let nothing take Your place in all my heart. / Infuse me with Yourself abundantly / ’Til we meet, dear Lord. / I’ll love You with the best love. (Song on giving Christ the first place)
# Christ now is my center and reality, / My life for eternity. / All things are just dung compared to Him, / So love and just gain Him! (Song on gaining Christ)
# We’d experience Christ daily, / Him we would constantly pursue. / Our pursuing has a purpose / To build His Body is our view. / Occupy us for Your Body. Grace supplying, You afford. Always bearing, always caring, / By Your grace we’d be outpoured. (Song on being outpoured for His body)
Latest posts by aGodMan (see all)
- The Lord’s Recovery of the Church has been Gradual and Progressive throughout History - November 23, 2017
- Seeing the Degradation of the Church from God’s Original Intention for the Church - November 22, 2017
- The Original Condition of the Church and the need for the Recovery of the Church - November 21, 2017