A message of November 20, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:
My journey to grow further in my personal relationship in Jesus Christ began in earnest just over three years ago when I searched for colleges in pursuit of a Master’s Degree. Once I discovered what I believe is my purpose in the kingdom for Jesus Christ, it has been my desire to pursue what I believed would be the best course for my life.
I was thrilled to share my thoughts with my lovely wife three years ago. She admittedly looked at me with concern about this pursuit. She knew what such a commitment meant, and that there would be moments where I would be in seclusion. It would be tough for me, and sometimes it would be tough for the both of us. The schedule meant that I would be giving up Saturdays for many weeks, and two of our annual vacations in February involved me writing papers for classes. After it was all done this year, I was very, very happy to finish. I never doubted that I would finish, but I also note that it was just the beginning for me.
Once you make a commitment to some sort of ministry, you make a commitment to live your life in service for Jesus Christ. This commitment to Christ is a serious, life-changing step, and when you know what that means, you go after it with gusto.
My next life-growth step involves my study for a unit of clinical pastoral education, which is basically learning how to become a chaplain. There is a lot that I am learning about the profession, and in turn, there is a lot that I am learning about myself. It is not a coincidence, by the way, that we are studying personal spiritual growth in Sunday school each week. Once you learn your purpose, the Holy Spirit will enable you and also pave the way for you to be the best person that you can be in service for Jesus Christ.
In order to be the best person you can be for Jesus Christ, there are some things that are understood for the dedicated believer…faith and trust in Christ, obedience to His Word, and dedication to live a consistent life for Him.
- Faith and trust
Hebrews 11:6 HCSB
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 HCSB
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
Joshua 1:8-9 ESV
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13 HCSB
When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.
- A life of consistency
1 Corinthians 15:58 HCSB
Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Galatians 6:9 HCSB
So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
Being the best person for Jesus Christ means looking at these verses and all of Scripture to learn what it is to be a model citizen. It is your active ministry within both the body of Christ and in your daily travels as a light for Jesus Christ in the world.
Our focus today is on ministry and the development of relationships. Discipleship, or one-on-one instruction, mentoring and accountability has a starting point, and it involves making and building relationships with others.
You can’t develop a relationship with someone by merely sending a friend request on Facebook. You can’t do it by using Snap or taking selfies on Instagram. A real relationship starts and continues with a physical presence—one-on-one. It is what we will refer to today as a ministry of presence.
Consider how a person, such as a shut-in, or a person who doesn’t receive a lot of company, feels when someone comes by to see how things are going. It shows your care and concern for a person just by showing up. Ministry begins when you step out of your zone and reach out to others. Look at how much you appreciate God’s presence in your life:
Psalm 16:11 ESV
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
In a ministry of presence, there are five “BE” statements that apply in relationship development:
- Be approachable
Approachability is important in that it defines you as a distinct child of God and as a light in the world.
Matthew 5:14-16 HCSB
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
- Be available
Showing yourself as available means that there is nothing that is hindering a visit or your conversation. You show yourself as genuine when you give your undivided attention to the person.
Jesus wants you to be available to minister to others. It has nothing to do with your timing or your convenience. You may live in the Eastern time zone and set your watch accordingly, but effective ministry is calibrated on God’s timing.
Isaiah 6:8 KJV
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
- Be patient
This follows being available. There are times when a person that is sharing with you needs to share to get something out or get it off of their chest. There may be a buildup of anger or frustration that needs to come out, and it may take some time. When you are ministering to someone, it would be rude to put the other person on a time limit or give signals that they are running out of time. When these moments occur, please consider how patient the Lord has been with you.
Ephesians 4:1-3 HCSB
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.
James 1:19 ESV
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
- Be loving
If you look around, it’s hard at times to find love in the world. If it is so hard for us to see it, then it is up to us to provide it. Be loving to those who you minister to.
Matthew 22:36-40 ESV
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
1 Corinthians 13:4a
Love is patient and kind.
- Just be
This is in line with your act of love. A ministry of presence means that you should “just be.” Sometimes the best thing that you can do in ministry is to just listen…just listen to what the other person is saying. Hearts may be broken and hurts may need to be expressed. Your words, in response, may be unnecessary or inadequate depending upon the moment. Being a presence involves care, comfort, and helping someone to see that he or she is not alone. Just be who you are.
A ministry of presence involves these five “BE” statements:
This can be the jump start for your ministry. Even if you don’t know all of the answers or you’re still learning in your own relationship with Jesus Christ, you can do all of these things as you learn more about serving Him in discipleship. It means coming out of your comfort zone in faith, obedience and living with consistency for Jesus Christ. You can do it.
Jesus Christ wants you to live and love others with a ministry of presence.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines