Ministry can be an exhilarating challenge at times, and some people thrive on that rush. But it can also be a daunting challenge with lows as deep as the highs. Some people can become overwhelmed with the special challenges that they find in ministry–and either burn out, give up, or simply grow bitter. But the Lord provides for those he calls into service.
Yesterday we began to look at six ways which the Lord provides for His servants.The first way he provides is: He Gives Us Ministry Co-workers. You can read part one here: The Lord’s Provision for Ministry (part 1)
He Gives Us Financial Provision
“and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.… “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.”” (Acts 18:3, 5 NASB95)
When Paul first arrived in Corinth, he needed a place to make a living. The blessing of meeting Aquila and Priscilla was more than a blessing and provision of co-workers in the gospel ministry. Verse 3 tells us that they shared the same trade: tent-making. This would make good sense because when Paul arrived there was no church to take an offering of support for his work. So, when the small group formed a tiny little church, he didn’t accept any financial support from them but supported himself from his own labors.
Verse 4 shows us that his need to work limited his ministry to the Sabbath day. It may have been that he used the evenings as well to teach and preach, but this would have been limited as well.
Paul later wrote to the Corinthian church that he did not want to take from them any financial support so that they would not be put under the financial stress. In 2 Corinthians 11:9 Paul wrote, “and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.” (2 Corinthians 11:9, NASB95).Instead of burdening the Corinthian Church, Paul wrote that he took the support he received from the churches in Macedonia. We see that in verse 5 when Paul and Silas returned they brought a financial gift to help Paul so that he didn’t have to work as a tentmaker anymore.
This wasn’t an issue of laziness on Paul’s part, but an issue of mission. Paul was called to plant churches, not make tents! When Paul wrote to the Philippians he thanked them for their generosity in providing for this ministry. He said in Philippians 4:15, “You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone” (Philippians 4:15, NASB95). How encouraging it is to know that the Lord provides for his minister’s needs!
Do you know how much an F/A 18 Hornet twin engine fighter plane costs? $94 million dollars!  Do you think the pilots that fly those beautiful machines pay for their own jets? How about the fuel? Of course not! They are serving us as they protect the United States. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:7, “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?” (1 Corinthians 9:7, NASB95)
We all pay taxes that pay for those planes, the fuel, the rockets and the pilots. I happily pay for those things because I want those men and women who defend our country to be safe and to keep us safe. Ministry is no different. Some people don’t pay taxes, and some begrudge the taxes they pay. Same thing goes in church. Some people don’t give, or they give very little. They begrudge God. Don’t be that person. Support the ministry of your church, missionaries and other ministries which the Lord is using to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He Gives Us Ministry Focus
“And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:4–5, NASB95)
Whenever Paul and the missionary team entered into a city, they didn’t need to figure out what they were supposed to do. The Lord had laid that out for his Apostles when he was with them, and nothing had changed. When Paul entered a city, he proclaimed the gospel to the people. After souls were saved, he established a church where Christ was worshiped. Then he discipled the Christians until there were some who were mature enough to be leaders. Then he moved on to plant another church somewhere else.
In Acts 2:42 we see how the church conducted its services when it gathered: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42, NASB95). This isn’t mysterious. No need to be creative and reinvent the wheel of worship.
Verse 4 says Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath trying to persuade the Jews and Greeks of the truthfulness of the gospel. He did that everywhere he went. And in verse 5 when Timothy and Silas find him, he was still at it!
As a pastor, whenever we gathered together to conduct board meetings we always had an agenda. Perhaps you have been at a meeting that goes nowhere and is just a giant time waster. I hate that. I don’t know about you, but If I have to meet I want to have a purpose and know where I am going, and I want the meeting to stop when we are done.
God has an agenda for the Church, doesn’t he? He wants us to go out into the whole world and preach the gospel, baptizing them and making disciples. He wants us to admonish and teach everyone with wisdom so that everyone is complete in Christ (Philippians 2:30). He wants our churches to focus on Scripture teaching, biblical fellowship, communion and prayer. That’s the plan and we need to stick to it and not wander off into a spiritual drift pattern.
Let me ask you honestly, how are you involved in these purposes? Are you personally helping the church in moving forward to be faithful to this purpose or are you slowing it down?