~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Equipped for Service (Part 2: Helping with Motivation) by clicking here.
When you are working on stepping into something new, it is totally normal to at one minute feel excitement about the work of the Kingdom, and then, the next minute, be feeling trepidation about doing the work of the Kingdom. Please, be at peace with those emotions and up-and-down thoughts as you step into this new thing. It’s OK!
In John chapter 4, Jesus said “My food is to do the will of my Father.” Jesus is saying “the food is not just the Word, but it is also doing the Word!” Do not be deceived being hearers of the word only! God wants you to perceive the new thing that He is doing. Agathos is beautiful to God. He loves our knowledge of Him and our purity, AND (new thing alert!) He is calling us to “go out, reach out, and give to others what He’s given to us.”
When there is a new thing, we need to have grace for ourselves. Don’t feel like you are the only person in the church who is feeling some trepidation about this new season. Nearly everyone probably is! In fact, the only ones not feeling some nervousness about evangelizing and discipling are those who have been discipling people for years and witnessing to people for years. This will not be intimidating to them – it will actually be encouraging. They will be thinking “yes! everyone else gets to experience the joy, delight,, and LIFE that I experience by being a minster of the Kingdom!”
You want to start everything in ministry with the Word and in prayer. His Word makes us wise. It feeds our spirit, making us strong. It develops our faith as it reveals His love for us. It is our weapon against Satan’s attacks and keeps us from being deceived by false doctrines. It equips us to accurately minister to others. It makes us true disciples and sets us free. It produces spiritual growth and maturity in us – renewing our minds, and awakening us to righteousness. It enables me to walk free from sin and fills my heart with joy and peace! John 6:63 says “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” We want to be in the Word!
The first key to being in the Word is to know the value of the Word – to remember what the Word does for us! That’s exactly what the declaration about the Word will do for you – it will give you an expectancy for what the Word is going to do for you!
The second key about the Word for our body during this season is to remember that as we step further into ministry, we don’t want to get into spiritual debt. Recall that we’ve heard that the average pastor who quits the pastorate spends a total of 23 minutes a week in the Word and in prayer. Acts 6 says what to do. There is nothing wrong with waiting tables as long as it doesn’t pull them away from their time in the Word and time in prayer. We want to give the fruit, not the branch. The branch stays in the vine and it produces fruit. You have so much fruit that you are just trying to find people take it off your hands! When you are abounding in fruit, it makes it easy to give it away!
God’s grace applies to our time in the Word and in prayer! There is grace even (and especially for) the disciplines! Don’t “do the Word” without the Holy Spirit. Make a point to invite the Holy Spirit into your time in the Word. “Holy Spirit bless this time in the Word!” The enemy works against your time in the Word and in prayer with circumstances and emotions. So, if you make a plan, you essentially just put the enemy at bay! The plan is the diligence part (first the natural then the spiritual). But even with the plan, invite the Holy Spirit’s supernatural intervention in your time in the Word! We have the author of the Bible living on the inside of us and He wants to have a book club meeting with us anytime we open the Word! Holy Spirit is literally on-call with you about the Word. He is ready and waiting for you to open the Word and invite Him, in faith to join you there!
I want to also encourage you to pray for a hunger for God’s Word! That is a very good prayer to pray. There is nothing that the enemy is opposing more in your life than your time in the Word. If you will commit to your time in the Word and in prayer, you will render that opposition useless. Don’t get condemned if you don’t have a grace yet to spend an hour in the Word. Spend 15 minutes. Make a commitment and as your desire grows, do more. The key is to get to the gym, not necessarily to have a 3-hour workout initially. Have grace for yourself. Make it a habit and once it is a habit and a routine, you will naturally feel a desire to add to it more!
The first point about “how” to be in the Word is to realize that there are different ways to read it. There are about four main ways to read the Word of God. You can think of it as a camera zoom lens that either zooms in very narrowly to a small part of the Word or zooms out to the Word overall. We can read for context, topically. We can also meditate on small sections of scripture and memorize the Word. Reading large swaths of the Word for context is like having a well-balanced diet. Topical studies produce well-rounded doctrine. Meditation receives revelation and memorization aids meditation and ministry.
We need to start hearing in order to be able to teach others. Thinking about new believers, it is advisable that they spend most of their time in the New Testament. It’s all the Word of God! It’s all profitable (2 Tim. 3:16-17) but some of it is an easier place to start for new believers. The Old Testament raises a lot of questions that the New Covenant answers. Jesus gives us a better covenant. and we need to be careful not to put new wine in an old wineskins.
Here are 3 ways to turbocharge your time in the Word: First, read it out loud. Reading the Word out loud causes our eyes to work, our mouth to work, and our ears to hear what our mouth is saying. Now, we are engaging all 3 gateways to our hearts!
The second way to supercharge your time in the Word is to meditate in the Word. In Hebrew, the word meditate means either to “chew the cud” (ruminate on something) or to pound something in (like forging steel through continually pounding it). Note that eastern mediation is demonic. It encourages you to empty your mind. By contrast, in scriptural meditation, you fill your mind with the Word of God!
The last way to supercharge your time in the Word is to teach others! When you receive revelation from the Word of God, you become a steward of it. When God gives you revelation, He wants you to do business with it! He wants you to share it! When you start sharing the revelation, an amazing thing happens – He multiplies what you have! Don’t disdain the simple teachings. Get in the Word. Get in prayer. Remember the basics.
Motivation takes something that would otherwise be drudgery and makes it something that you want to do. It’s great to know that you need to workout, it’s really nice when you know you need to work out and you are motivated to workout. It changes it!
Here are 3 ways to increase your motivation about witnessing and discipling – about being spiritually employed:
- Be overflowing with fruit. When you are overflowing in the Lord, it becomes very easy to become motivated to minister. It’s more blessed to give than to receive! You receive receive receive, but then you give give give. The Law is about achieving. Grace is about receiving. We are a receiving church, but then you want to give out of what you’ve got by grace.
- Dealing with fear associated with ministering.
- The first type of fear is the fear of rejection. We are so afraid of rejection, but it is not Jesus’ way. He didn’t tell His disciples “be afraid if they reject you and feel really bad if they reject you.” What did He say? “If they reject you, reject them and do it in public so maybe someone will come to their senses and realize the stupid thing they’ve done!” One time Pastor Brad witnessed to a young lady at the strong lead of the Lord. After finishing sharing the gospel, this young girl looked up and said “you really believe that sh – -“ Brad felt bad, but the Lord spoke to him and said “she didn’t reject you, Brad, she rejected Me.” If you are sharing the Word of God, you can’t get rejected; you are just sharing the Word. Our job is to share the Word, not to get them saved. The Holy Spirit’s job is to do the ministry and it’s their choice. Our job is just to share the message.
- The next thing that we fear is ridicule. If people ridicule you for believing the Word of God, we should feel sad for them!
- We also tend to fear not knowing all the answers. Remember, “I don’t know” is a fine answer. The person primarily wants to know the genuineness of the faith that you are professing. That said, realize that you know much more than you think you do! Additionally, when you start ministering to someone you will often experience that the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance all things that Jesus said to you! Holy Spirit will also back up His Word with power! The Holy Spirit shows up when you start ministering.
- We tend to fear not being equipped, but we are going to make sure you are equipped!
- Understanding the value of supernatural Kingdom employment.
When Brad told Peter about 4 years that “I want to take you out witnessing” Peter was nervous about it to the point of almost be upset with him for pressing this matter. As Peter started to share the gospel more and more I realized that they fear was a facade. Now when he share the gospel, he is not afraid about what they think of him, but instead concerned with how he communicates the message so that they would get it and receive Jesus! After learning how to evangelize, Peter felt like“I know how to finish a play.”
From Pastor Brad: When you are not engaged in the great commission, you are spiritually unemployed. It is not healthy of your spiritual well-being. God is not condemning any of His children for that. Once you step into sharing the gospel and leading people to Christ, you literally move from spiritual childhood to adulthood. We must step into being a doer of the Word – doing the one thing Jesus has called us to do: the Great Commission which is to share the gospel.
In December, the Lord showed Brad that he had taken us all through medical school and that Peter was now taking you into residency (the hands-on, medical school apprenticeship). You are actually going to start operating on people right now! Do you want to just keep learning about it or do you actually want to do it? It is now time. You are so well equipped. You have so much more than you even need to get out there and do it. But once you start to do it and you become spiritually employed, it will so radically change your walk with the Lord – it’s incredible!
The joy that is on sharing the gospel is like nothing else! The common denominator to the miracles Brad has experienced is that he was out on the street witnessing. You will find that fear is a very thin veneer. So, push through any fears and really think “I am going to actually be operating on people so I need to really know what I need to know so that I can do it!” You are going to thank the Lord for pressing this issue because your whole Christian life is going to come full-circle. Keep after it.