Streams of Ministry

God has multiple ways of doing the same thing. The River of God flows in a variety of streams, making room for much diversity and for different types of ministry to work in divergent ways.

Yet Christians fail to understand this and think that their own pet expression of God’s grace is the best, or main way that God operates. So I have had to prompt various ministry people at times with an understanding of the “Streams of Ministry”.

I’m sharing this message with you, in the hope that you will not become blind to God’s great grace and the multiple ways He can and will move in the earth.

Diversity

Preachers love to extol preaching. Prayer warriors see the importance of prayer. Administrators are offended when they see others who do not value good organisation. Teachers tend to elevate teaching over other ministries.

Chris Praying

Those who see visions and dream dreams feel the value of those experiences. Evangelists can easily see that as the main ministry. And so it goes.

There is great diversity in Christian ministry, not just in modern practice, but in Biblical principles too. And this is not a problem. It is God’s way of making sure there are multiple streams of ministry available to address our needs.

Preaching or Prayer

We know that “the prayer of faith” heals the sick.

“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” James 5:15

We know that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

Jesus told us that if we ask for things in His name He will do them for us.

“And what ever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13

So, there is no doubt that prayer is a vital ministry. This is so much so that many people are totally committed to the ministry of prayer. Great testimonies, such as Praying Hyde in India, attest to the awesome effectiveness of a prayer ministry.

But prayer is not the only way God gets things done. God has chosen to use preaching too.

Preaching Does the Job

God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to do important ministry work.

“For when in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1Corinthians 1:21

Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the preaching of the Word of God. We are asked how people will “hear” unless there is a preacher.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14

Not only did the preaching of Paul birth churches in hostile places, but great preachers through history, including Spurgeon and Wesley, proved by their efforts that preaching is a powerful stream of ministry.

What is it to Be?

Now, which is it? Do we elevate prayer or preaching?

Can we do without both?

Some people seem to get by with only one or the other. Some people swear by one or the other. You can buy books that push one instead of the other. Which is God’s favourite? Which is best? Which should you pursue and which one should you neglect?

Obviously both are effective streams of ministry. There are people who make one or other work extremely well in their hands. But that does not mean that the other ministry is invalid, less important or lower in spiritual value.

Other Streams

Truth is a stream of ministry. Some people can see breakthrough in the lives of others, through speaking the truth to them, or helping them come to terms with reality. That’s because the truth is an effective ministry tool in itself.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

Laying on Hands is a stream of ministry. This was not only practiced in the New Testament church but it was clearly described by both Jesus and the Apostle Paul. There are spiritual and practical outcomes which spring directly from the ministry of the laying on of hands.

“They will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:18

“Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” 1Timothy 4:14

Binding and Loosing is another stream of ministry. Jesus instructed His followers that they could exercise the ministry of binding and loosing. This includes binding the enemy’s work and releasing God’s grace.

“Truly I tell you, Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven: and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18

Yet More Streams

Faith is another powerful ministry stream. If we have faith even as a grain of mustard seed we can move whole mountains.

“And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief: for truly I tell you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it will remove; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit provide yet another important ministry stream. The Holy Spirit distributes gifts so that we all benefit.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.” 1Corinthians 12:7

Humility brings powerful results. God gives grace to the humble and if we humble ourselves that leads to us being exalted by the Lord in due time.

“Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” 1Peter 5:5,6

Confession also has a powerful ministry value. We are told to confess our faults one to another.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

Spiritual Warfare, involving the armour of God, is clearly a powerful ministry process, protecting us from the enemy’s attacks.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

And what about praise, comforting one another, giving, fellowshipping together, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, exhortation, and helps? There are other streams not even mentioned here.

Got the Picture?

I have met people who are totally committed to just one of those streams of ministry, thinking that God can only be effective by that particular emphasis. But the Bible reveals that God has multiple streams of ministry.

Pentecostals may emphasise the operation of the gifts of the Spirit, while evangelicals may steer away from that. Evangelists and preachers may feel that the more ponderous teachers are failing to be effective. Men and women of prayer may be upset by those who don’t spend as much time in prayer. Those who give may be upset by those who won’t. And so it goes.

Our God is an awesome God, who can use each one of us in meaningful ministry, even though we are all doing something different.

Don’t despise those who God uses differently to you. You do not have the exclusive franchise on God’s ministry. Only He has that. So flow with Him, in the stream He leads you to work best in. But don’t stop others from flowing in the way God is best using them.

Intercession Explained 2

Intercession is a powerful and valuable expression of prayer ministry that has its own unique and wonderful place in ministering to the needy.

In part 1 of this series I opened the subject for you, and in this lesson I will move into the explanation of what Intercession is.

We have already seen that some people find a sense of burdening coming upon them at times when they pray. This can be emotional feelings, deep inner perceptions and physical responses within their body. The person is not sensing these things on their own behalf, but on behalf of someone else who is in need.

When this burden comes upon them, placed there by the Holy Spirit, the intercessor will pray with fervour and intensity, pushing through the barrier and resolving the sense of burden that has come upon them. Once they have done so a feeling of relief and going back to normal settles upon them.

So, What is Intercession?

I see Intercession as having three components. It is firstly the ‘making of a petition’, or pleading on someone else’s behalf. So, a person could write a letter to an employer, on behalf of someone else, pleading with the employer to consider the special needs of the person being interceded for.

When ever someone pleads on behalf of someone else, that could be identified as intercession.

At the same time intercession carries the idea of ‘identification’. The person writing on behalf of a friend is identifying with and feeling concern for the situation of their friend.

Thirdly, intercession involves one party ‘acting on behalf of another’. Not only do they identify with the burden, but they use their own position, authority, voice, strength or wit to lend aid to the one who is burdened.

Often people who are helpless appeal to those who have better standing than them to act on their behalf. When someone does that they are acting as an intercessor, making intercession.

The Intercession Process

I picture the intercession process as starting with a person who is stooped over and weighed down with a burden. That burden could be fear, grief, shame, sickness, debt, obligation, insecurity, or whatever.

An intercessor comes along and identifies with that burden, by stooping down to stand alongside the burdened person under their load. Now, the intercessor is not personally burdened by the same fear, grief, or whatever. But they tune in to that burden, as it were.

Then the intercessor allows the weight of that burden to be taken on their own shoulders, so the person who had the burden is relieved. As the intercessor shoulders the burden the other person is able to stand tall, stretch and feel the joy of relief.

Temporary intercession would result in some relief to the burdened person, before they carried their load again. While that is not as good as total freedom, it is better than no relief at all.

Alternatively, the intercessor could carry off the burden so that the person is permanently set free from its load. However, if the intercessor was then permanently burdened there would not be the victory which the Holy Spirit wants to bring, through Christ’s finished work.

Ideally the intercessor, being stronger in spirit and with the Holy Spirit’s anointing, will not only shoulder the load, freeing the burdened person, but have the spiritual might to totally destroy and throw off the burden completely.

Christ the Intercessor

Our best example of Intercession is Jesus Christ and His work for us on the Cross.

Mankind is burdened by sin and the death penalty which comes from our sinfulness. Jesus became human, identifying with us and our situation. He then, on the cross, took all of our burdens upon Himself, so we could become totally free from sin and death.

Jesus then defeated sin and death, throwing them off and coming back to life. He defeated the devil, sin, death and all the evil which attacks us. He went through the whole process I described earlier in the Intercession Process. And now we can live completely free from sin, death and hell.

An Ideal Example

Back in 1980, in New Zealand, a young man I was encouraging in his ministry came to me to share his first experience of Intercession. Mal was a ‘no-holds-barred’ enthusiastic Christian who jumped in and did what he felt impressed to do, without needing to understand what was going on. It was great to see his faith in action, although at times he seemed to be living dangerously.

He excitedly shared with me that he was entering into the ministry of healing people’s inner lives which he had seen me do. What he actually stepped into was powerful intercession.

The Baptist Pastor at Te Puke asked Mal to assist him in praying for a woman who had breakdowns at the same time each year. As the three began praying in the woman’s home Mal prayed in tongues (praying in the Holy Spirit) for a while, then felt an incredible burden come on him. He continued praying as he wept and struggled with intense feelings. Then the intensity turned to a feeling of delight and freedom.

The lady explained that as they started praying she saw in her imagination a baby in a darkened room, desperately crying for the attention of the adults whose voices could be heard through a closed door. The woman felt the agony of the baby and realised it was a vision of her as an infant. She also realised that the sound of a baby crying always accompanied her times of breakdown.

She then told Mal, “When you became emotional something wonderful happened”. She saw the door open and Jesus walk to the crying baby. He picked the baby up and cradled it in His arms. As He did so the woman felt pain and tension drain out of her body until she felt a wonderful release and peace.

Analyse This

The woman was under a burden of personal pain that went back to her infancy. It may have been rejection, but we don’t have a label for it. When a burden of intercession came upon Mal, the Holy Spirit released a healing process into the woman’s life, as Mal carried the pain for a season.

The ministry of the Spirit brought to the woman a revelation of the source of her problem and also revealed Jesus as the healer of that situation. Once the prayer process was over there was no more burden being carried. Mal only shouldered it temporarily and the woman was able to be free from pains she had carried all her life.

Note that Mal did not know the effect of his praying. He simply allowed himself to be moved by the Holy Spirit. Only when the lady explained what she was seeing could Mal have known the effect of his prayers.

The Baptist pastor said, “I’ve never seen anything like this ever before”. He probably thought Mal was a spiritual wonder-worker, but Mal was way out of his depth, just going with what the Holy Spirit led him to do.

Rees Howells

The book, Rees Howells Intercessor, about this great man of prayer from mid last century is a wonderful example of a man identifying with others and then having great impact in prayer.

His experience and example are a mixture of a burden to identify with the needy, and the development of a small group of prayer warriors who received prophetic guidance in their prayers. You will find it a great encouragement to spirit-led praying.

Release of Intercession

In the lovely and powerful name of Jesus Christ I release a spirit of intercession upon the body of Christ and upon those reading this, so that the supernatural ability to bear one another’s burdens becomes abundant in the Body of Christ, so God’s Kingdom will come and His will be done in the earth as it is in heaven.

To see the first part of this study on Intercession go to the following link …..

http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/intercession-1

The Prayers of a Mother

Mothers have often felt powerless to see good outcomes in their wayward children. History and the Bible attest to the effect of a woman’s prayers and the actions of a praying mum. Those who follow my daily Church History posts will recognise two mothers in particular who saw their prayers answered for their wayward sons.

Augustine Had a Praying Mother

The famous Christian leader and preacher from the fourth century, Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, did not start his life as a godly man. In fact he was immoral and a shame to his mother.

This caused great distress to his mother, Monica, even though she had great impact on his younger life. She was a godly woman who did not want her son consumed by sin, but hoped for him to serve God. Monica, however, had seen a vision, which she told to her son. She saw that one day he would become a Christian in answer to her prayers. The great Augustine that we remember was in fact the son of his mother’s prayers.

Despite Monica’s vision and her attempts to teach her son godly living, young Augustine pursued those things that appealed to his human mind. He dabbled in theatre, philosophy, rhetoric and heresy. Like many people today, he expected to find the ultimate truth from his personal explorations.

Profligate Living

Because Augustine’s notion of life was that people must find their own truth he also felt free to find his own morality. He had multiple mistresses. In fact he was so given to immorality he was later in awe of simple Christians who could resist the temptations which dominated him.

Now consider a son in such a state. His philosophy of life, intellectual pursuits and immoral lifestyle made him seem unreachable. Onlookers could have considered him a lost cause and a hopeless case.

But his mother did not stop praying for him. She had the assurance that came through her earlier vision, and she had God’s Word to assure her.

Praying Women in the Bible

Jesus gave a parable about a widow woman who deserved justice. Because she was of no social consequence an unjust judge dismissed her case. She was undeterred, but came back repeatedly to cry out for justice. In the end the unjust judge gave in to her demands and gave her justice, only to stop her pestering him.

Jesus used that woman’s situation to show that persistent prayer will be heard by God, who is much more willing to help than that unjust judge was.

“And he spake a parable to them to show that men should always pray and not give up; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And will not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them?” Luke 18:1-7

Powerful Powerless Prayers

Even though a woman may feel powerless and unable to demand obedience from her son or justice from her society, yet she can pray powerful prayers which God will answer. This makes the powerless woman into a powerful woman of God.

That’s what happened for Monica, as she prayed for Augustine. She not only prayed herself, but she enlisted the prayers of others, tearfully determined to see her son saved.

One person Monica asked to pray with her was a bishop who comforted her with confidence in her prayers. The bishop said to her: “Leave him there, and only pray to God for him; he will discover by reading what is his error, and how great his impiety. …. Go, live so; it cannot be that the son of those tears will perish.”

While Monica was praying for her son, Augustine came under the powerful preaching of godly Ambrose in Milan. After Augustine was converted he said of Ambrose, “I was led to him unknowingly by God, that I might knowingly be led to God by him”.

Jacob DeShazer’s Mum

Jacob DeShazer was an American airman in World War II who was shot down returning from a bombing raid over Japan. He had not come to faith in God, but his mother prayed for his soul.

On the very night that Jacob leaped from his plane to parachute into enemy territory his mother woke from her sleep with the sense of falling. She did not realise that her experience had a connection with her son, but she prayed. And she continued praying for her boy, as she had done before.

DeShazer ended up in solitary confinement in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. While others were shot, his life was spared. And eventually he turned his heart to God and asked for a Bible. Once he received it he devoured God’s Word, reading it through multiple times and cross-referencing events to see that the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus were truly fulfilled in his life.

DeShazer came to faith and later returned to Japan as a very effective missionary.

God Answers the Prayers of a Mother

Mums, you may feel that you are powerless as your children head off to lives which you want to save them from. But you are not powerless. God listens to your prayers. God will hear and answer, as you press in and claim the lives of your sons and daughters.

I encourage you to do what Augustine’s mother did. And do what DeShazer’s mother did. Cry out to God for the soul of your child and confidently expect God to answer. He will.

John Howe – Puritan Preacher

This is the day that … John Howe was born in Leicestershire, England, in 1630.

His father was a Church of England clergyman who was later ejected from his parish because of his non-conformity.  He had “espoused the cause of the Puritans” and thereby the wrath of Archbishop Laud.

Young John was but 5 years of age at this time.

Returning to England some years later, John Howe was seen by Oliver Cromwell, who was impressed by “his fine appearance”.  The Protector invited Howe to preach the following Sunday. Howe “pleads one excuse after another not to do so”, but finally “much against his private preferences” became one of the chaplains to the Cromwellian army (Schaff Herzog Encyclopaedia, page 1027).

We read that he was “a ready off-hand preacher” who never used notes,  despite the fact that he was “famous for the unusual length of his sermons and prayers” (Dictionary of Literary Biography, page 340).   An example of this is given by Edward Calamy, his biographer:  On fast-days he would begin the service at 9.00 a.m., pray for a quarter of an hour, read and expound a chapter for three-quarters of an hour, pray for about an hour, preach for another hour, and then pray for half an hour.  Then, whilst the people sang for fifteen minutes, he would “take some refreshments” before returning to the pulpit.  He would pray for an hour, preach for an hour and conclude the service around 4.00 p.m., with a final prayer “of about a half an hour or more” (History of Preaching, by E. Dargan, page 147).

A member of his flock is reported to have commented that Mr Howe “is a dear good man but he spends so much time in laying the cloth that I lose my appetite for the dinner” (page 180).

After King Charles II came to the throne, Howe “wandered from place to place, preaching in secret,” and devoting himself to writing.  The Living Temple is probably his best-known work.

Robert Hall speaks of him as “the greatest of the Puritan Divines”, although he admits that his sentences are often “long and cumbersome” (page 181).

John Howe died on 2 April, 1705.

Daily Blessing Prayer

I have uploaded a special prayer for you to use as a Daily Blessing. This prayer is the one that I pray over my wife, Susan, each day. It is my daily blessing prayer for her. I specially recorded it so others around the world can receive this special prayer as well.

You may like to bookmark this post so you come back to it each day to play the prayer and receive the daily blessing. I also suggest that you forward this article by email to your contact list, so your friends can also get this sweet prayer of blessing.

To hear the prayer simply click the link below……..

DAILY PRAYER OF BLESSING FOR YOU