“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
How can we become successful doers of the word? Here’s, I hope, an inspired acrostic.
We must work from our dreams and not simply from duty. “Tell me your dreams” said Joseph in Genesis 40:8. It seems that the Holy Spirit may be asking us the same question. So many times we are overwhelmed by our problems which grow into mountains that fill our vision and suck away our strength. We need to make these mountains of problems shrink to dots and see our dreams and visions taking their place on our inner horizons. Click the following for more on dreams.
“Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38
We must spend quality time in discerning the origins of our actions. Anything manufactured out of man’s money or ingenuity will ultimately fail. The wreckage of so many wasted efforts, frustrations and “burnouts” fills the history of church and missions. If we do not take the time to pray and seek out God’s word and ways we will pay a greater price later trying to shore up man initiated work against the eventual tide of God’s judgment. So many aggressive appeals for finance are based on this “failure” to truly discern God’s work.
When we get our origins right we are on to a winner! Work from God is unstoppable. This gives us hope to launch out into some of the most dangerous and inhospitable places on the earth. God himself will defend and fight for his purposes. The apostle John in 3:6 puts this principle into other terms.
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out (ekballo) workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:1-2
Jesus was so overwhelmed by the spectacle of the harassed and helpless crowds milling about lost, without leadership that he urgently summoned the use of the gift of prayer to see workers “thrust out” into the harvest fields. The word Jesus used here, “ekballo”, is very strong. It is the same word that is used to “cast out” demons or “chase out” the thieves from the temple. Jesus is not being a nice English gentleman here and politely hinting “Would you mind being sent?” Welling up from of his desperate compassion he is saying, “Get out of your comfort zone!”
So many folks have lost their passion for souls because they have got stuck in a rut of comfort and habit. Even ministers and missionaries can get caught in the habits of going through the motions of Christian work without really engaging with the crisis of the crowds. If this is the case we need to stir ourselves up again and take on the uncomfortable challenge of connecting with the crowds again. Dare we allow ourselves to be kicked out of our complacency and mind sets to be re-engaged with the uncomfortable reality of the world? True “doers” need the kick of “ekballo”.
Peter needed an “ekballo” vision of a reptile filled table-cloth to take him out of his cultural prejudice and be thrust out into the home of Cornelius. Ananias needed an “exballo” from the Lord to take him through his fear barrier and lay hands on his so-called “enemy” Saul of Tarsus. In Acts 8:1 the whole church needed the “ekballo” of persecution in order to fulfill the command to be thrust out to the nations.
What kind of “ekballo” will it take for us?
Refreshment and restoration
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Acts 3: 19-21
If you are going to be a long-term “doer” you will need times of refreshing and restoration. Keep yourself God centered through the gift of repentance. Don’t be like Samson who didn’t even realize that his strength was gone until it was too late. Keep turning to God in prayer and worship. A long distance runner often needs a “second wind” in his race. The rare Greek word used here for refreshment Anapsuxis, means recovery of breath (second wind), cooling, or reviving with fresh air.
Doing will also involve losing sometimes. Our actions and lives will often encounter a cross on the highway. Sometimes the thief does indeed come to kill, destroy and to steal. In such times we need to remember that our “doing” is only a pale reflection of God’s ultimate working to put the world back in place after its dislocation from the effects of sin and rebellion.
In our action we can look ahead to God’s final victory when, through Jesus, He will restore everything. In another rare Greek word, Apokatastasis, which denotes complete restoration of health (the restoring to its place of a dislocated joint), God is encouraging us to believe and work for the healing of the world.
We are certain that this will be fully achieved at Christ’s return, but as it says in Hebrews 6:5, we can already taste the “powers of the coming age” breaking into our world as we believe for restoration and healing in our own personal and national situations.
May you be truly refreshed and restored as you read these lines so as to be able to persevere in your doing of good works for the Lord and His Kingdom.
So, enough talking, enough meetings, enough conferences…
Just do it!