Intimacy precedes ministry

Mark 3:14-15 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons

When Jesus chose his 12 disciples he didn’t choose them so he could throw them out into the harvest for them to “figure it out”. It says it was appointed that they might be with him before He ever sent them out to do anything in ministry. I’m sure He taught them things from the Scriptures and taught them about the kingdom of God. But they needed more than knowledge. Earlier in the same chapter we see several instances of the Pharisees, with their exhaustive knowledge of the Scriptures, having no real understanding of the heart of God towards a lost and suffering humanity. They didn’t care that the miracle working power of God was present to heal the tormented and afflicted…because the traditions couldn’t be broken.

Jesus knew that before His disciples could ever labor for Him, they had to understand His mission. So they watched Him touch lepers and heal Gentiles and forgive adulteresses and rebuke Pharisees who looked on disapprovingly.

All our ministry will deteriorate into brittle religious ritual if it isn’t motivated and fueled by intimacy with Jesus. We were always meant to work WITH Him and not merely FOR Him.

His kisses

Song of Songs 1:2 [The Shulamite] Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–For your love is better than wine.

The root of the word “kiss” has this meaning: to kindle a fire, to burn

This is not just a peck on the cheek or the kind of kiss you give your grandmother. This is a kiss of passionate desire….the kind of kiss you feel all over your body…that awakes you to love

The kisses of the mouth of Christ are His words and they are spoken to us by His Spirit. Not just the reading of a book, but the work of the Holy Spirit whereby He makes those words live in us. What fires are kindled by such kisses! What desires are stirred for intimacy! Better than wine that makes the heart glad are the kisses of Christ that make the soul glad.

Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth that I might burn for You! Kindle a fire in this soul that can only be satisfied in Your presence. Draw me nearer with great anticipation of what it means to really know You….

 

I need just such a friend

Jesus knows all my wants and weaknesses; all my sin and misery. He knows the malice of my enemies, and the foolishness of my heart. He has power to subdue my whole nature to Himself, and to defeat the wiles and machinations of my foes.

His grace is all-sufficient.

His love is infinite.

His wisdom cannot be defeated.

His power cannot be resisted.

He has all power and strength–and I am very weak. He has all the knowledge to understand my whole case, and all the wisdom necessary to direct everything concerning me. He makes no mistakes. He is never deceived. He is never outsmarted. He knows all things.

He knows my weaknesses. He knows my sorrows. He knows my heart. His wisdom never fails. He is never confounded or perplexed. He has as much mercy and kindness as I need. His loving-kindness is so great that we cannot fathom its top or the bottom–the length or the breadth of it. The ocean of the Divine love is boundless and inexhaustible! It is infinite!

I have no sorrow to which He is a stranger.

He sympathizes with me in all my sufferings and temptations.

I need just such a friend.

(William S Plumer)

First, the Presence

Many chapters in the book of Exodus are concerned with the making of the tabernacle in the wilderness, both God’s detailed instructions for it and the people’s detailed following of those instructions. It’s tempting to just pass over these chapters as unimportant. But sometimes God stores a treasure in the midst of the monotony, maybe just to see if we’re looking.

There were many articles and utensils and furnishings made for the tabernacle. Once the tabernacle itself was erected, those things just needed to be put in their place inside the tabernacle. But God was very particular even about this. Here are His instructions to Moses:

Exodus 40:1-3 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. You shall put in it the ark of the Testimony, and partition off the ark with the veil.

It can be easy to pass over this as just another item in a detailed to-do list. But I think it speaks to us something that is so important to the heart of God….first, the Presence.

The ark of the testimony is the place of meeting between God and man (Exodus 25:22). So while all the other things in the tabernacle are about religious service, the ark is about intimacy. And intimacy must come first for it is the fuel for our religious service. Many time we get this backwards, zealous about our spiritual disciplines but never really getting to Him….which seems to be a time tested recipe for Pharisee making.

Believer, we are the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22) We are the tabernacle. He abides in you and empowers you for service in the kingdom, and this is so important to Him. But His priority for your life has not changed….first, the Presence.

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works. Psalm 73:28