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“Your Ministry or the Lord's?”

Romans 7:19-20

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Thoughts for Today:

Paul learned a couple of things in this struggle with the sinful nature -- lessons we need to learn as well. First: "In me lives no good thing." We reviewed this principle in our previous devotion. Have you learned it? Have you found out that no good thing lives in you?

Paul discovered something else that is vitally important to believers: "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing." He not only found out there is no good in the old nature, he also discovered there is no power in the new nature. The new nature may want to serve God, but the carnal man is at odds with God at the same time -- fighting for control every step of the way.

On Tuesday morning I ran into Ed at church. He was delivering bread to our church pantry at the same time I was delivering turkeys and hams -- his was a gift for the needy, while mine a Christmas present from the Deacon Board to our church's staff. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I started talking with Ed. Unlike mine, Ed's act of generosity was not an annual event. It was something he had been doing for thirty years -- twice a week while he was working, but now five days a week since retirement. Each week he quietly makes his early morning rounds to various grocery stores in our area, then takes the day old bakery items to our church, retirement homes, and other places for distribution to the needy. There is no fanfare or public acknowledgement -- he joyfully serves God (day by day, week in and week out, year after year) by selflessly providing for the needs of God's people.

We in church can learn a lot from Ed. So many of us run around in our fleshly ways trying to do things for God -- we're busy serving on one committee or another, trying to run the church, demanding recognition and disappointed when we don't get it -- active like termites and having about the same destructive effects. Although busy, we have no life giving connection to our head Jesus Christ. We try to do it our own way and with our own power. We haven't yet learned our lesson: "In me lives no good thing." John 15:5: "[Jesus speaking] I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Questions to Ponder:

I purposely didn't use Ed's last name because his reward is a "Kingdom Reward" not an earthly one. How do you think Ed found the energy and discipline to continue the bakery ministry for thirty years? If you thought, "Gee I couldn't do that!" then you would be right. No one could. Only the Lord. You see Ed is powered by God's Holy Spirit -- not his own. Are you having trouble gathering enough energy for your ministry? Perhaps the reason is because it is your ministry rather than the Lord's.

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About the author

Pocket Devotions are written by Mike Brooks. A retired businessman, he is Moderator of South Shores church, leads the Deacon Board, serves on the finance committee, and he teaches a Men's Bible study and the Men's Ministry. Mike has a passion for evangelical missions. He is the husband of Sherry; the father of Ryan, Natalie, Krissy, Rebecca, and Amanda; the father-in-law of Ariel; and the grandfather of Conner and Christian.