Five Fold Ministry 5

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in understanding and appreciation of the gift of the prophet.

Scripture

Acts 11:25-30

25  So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26  and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

27  Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28  And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29  So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30  And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 21:8-15

8  On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9  He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.

10  While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  11  And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'”

12  When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13  Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14  And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” 15  After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.

Observation and Reflections

Note: Agabus is one prophet we read about on these two occasions in the book of Acts.

  1. What prophesy did Agabus give in Acts 11?
    1. What was the desired outcome from this message from God to His people?
    2. In this section we read that Agabus was one of a number of prophets who traveled from the Jerusalem church(es) to visit the new congregation(s) in Antioch. What does that suggest of the early church and the ministry of prophets?
    3. Summarize what you can learn from the ministry of the New Testament prophet in this account.
  2. What prophesy did Agabus give in Acts 21?
    1. Note how he delivered the message; (i) what does that suggest of how he received the prophesy/ insight by God related to the future? [hint: think visually] (ii) and what does to suggest of the temperament of prophets?
    2. We notice that this congregation interpreted the message different from Paul. What can you learn about prophesy and interpretation in this regard?
    3. Again, summarize what you can learn from the ministry of the New Testament prophet in this account.

Reflection

  1. If the teacher is preoccupied with the Word of God, the pastor with the well-being of the congregation, and the evangelist with bringing in the harvest – what do you think is the preoccupation of the prophet?  Another way to ask this is: if the eyes of the teacher is in the Word, the eyes of the pastor in the sheep, and the eyes of the evangelist is toward the harvest – where is the gaze of the prophet?
  2. If Jesus gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry… what do you think should the prophet equip the members in the local church to do?
  3. Considering Agabus’ message in Acts 11 (above) – what is the danger of not cultivating and encouraging the gift of the prophet in the local church?
  4. Considering the example of how Agabus delivered the message in Acts 21 (above), what is the danger of the church’s relationship with prophets today?

Application and prayer

  1. Have you been equipped by a prophet (or someone who flows in the gift of prophesy) to hear and respond appropriately to the voice of God? If not – decide to position yourself today to “be equipped for the work of the ministry!” Ask your church leaders to help and pray that God will lead you to be equipped to hear the voice of God and respond appropriately.
  2. Do you have prophets functioning in your local church? If you know them, ask the Lord for more grace and boldness and a platform to teach and inspire in the church. If you do not know any, pray to the Lord for these gifts to raise or add these gifts in your church.
  3. Lastly, ask the Lord to entrust a message from his heart to someone who crosses your path today, and for grace to deliver the message accurately and boldly. Will you be obedient?
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Five Fold Ministry 4

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in understanding and appreciation of the gift of the evangelist.

Scripture

Acts 8:1-16

1  And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  2  Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3  But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

4  Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.  5  Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.  6  And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did.

7  For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.  8  So there was much joy in that city.

9  But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.  10  They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11  And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.  12  But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13  Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

14  Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15  who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16  for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Observation

Note: Philip was one of the first seven deacons appointed by the apostles (Acts 6:5), and is elsewhere explicitly called “Philip the evangelist who was one of the seven” (Acts 21:8).  This account above follows directly after the execution of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

  1. Philip went to “evangelize” (share the “evangeli” or “good news” or “gospel”) in Samaria.
    1. What accompanied the spreading of the gospel? (verses 6-7, 13)
    2. What was the “good news” Philip preached? (verse 12)
    3. What was the result of the preaching of the gospel by Philip the evangelist? (verses 8, 12-13)
    4. What did the church leaders do after the good reception of the gospel by Philip’s preaching? (verses 14-16)

Reflection

  1. What is the natural ministry inclination of an evangelist?
  2. What do you suspect would be the natural frustration of the evangelist with a local church?
  3. If Jesus gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry… what do you think should the evangelists equip the members in the local church to do?
  4. Considering the text above, what is the church’s relationship and responsibility to the evangelist and his/her gift?

Application and prayer

  1. Have you been equipped by an evangelistic ministry to share your testimony and share the gospel conviction and power? If not – decide to today to “be equipped for the work of the ministry!” Ask your church leaders to help and pray that God will lead you to be equipped to share his gospel.
  2. Do you have evangelists functioning in your local church? If you know them, ask the Lord for more grace and boldness and a platform to teach and inspire in the church. If you do not know any, pray to the Lord for these gifts to raise or add these gifts in your church.
  3. Lastly, ask the Lord to infuse you with boldness and passion to share the good news of Jesus where you go today. Whom will you share it with?

evangelist_sharing_Jesus2

Five Fold Ministry 3

The aim of this devotional Bible Study is to grow in understanding the role of the teacher: his/her model, manner and method.

Scripture

Titus 2:1-15

1  But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

2  Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4  and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6  Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

7  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8  and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

9  Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10  not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13  waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15  Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Observations and reflections

Note: Paul wrote this letter to Titus, whom he appointed head of the church of Crete, to appoint local leadership, and to model and teach sound doctrine as well as good moral behavior.

  1. Reading through this chapter, list the references to teaching / instruction / doctrine. Then order it in a short summary as a model the role of a teacher.
  2. Which basic doctrines does Paul instruct Titus to teach these new Cretan coverts? List these teachings and give the verse references (eg: on work and submission v9-10; on salvation and sanctification/ holiness v11-14; what else do you notice in this chapter?).

Relfections

Note: Notice the symmetry in the format of this section: beginning (v1), core message (v7-8), closure (v15)

1  But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine… 

7  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8  and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us

  • Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
  1. In the central message regarding teaching, Paul starts with the teacher being a model of good works; why is this important?
  2. Then Paul states the manner by which one ought to teach: “with integrity, dignity and sound speech that cannot be condemned.” Why is this important?  And give a few examples of what this way of teaching sounds like?
  3. Paul gives four charges to Titus regarding the method of the teacher in verse 15; briefly say what you understand these mean in your own words.
    1. “Declare”
    2. “Exhort”
    3. “Rebuke with all authority”
    4. “Let no one disregard you”

Application

Are you teachable?  Are you humble enough to be corrected? Ask a good friend to tell you what he thinks of your ability to be taught and corrected. Perhaps even pray with him.

Prayer

Pray for yourself for humility to be taught, to be corrected and to follow godly examples.  Who are the people that teach the Scriptures to you?  Pray for them by name that they may have Christ-like boldness, graciousness and inspiration to teach well!  Do you teach others at times?  Pray the same for you, plus a love for studying the Word of God!

Five Fold Ministry 2

The aim of this devotional Bible Study is to grow in understanding the role of the pastor (“shepherd”).

Scripture

Ezekiel 34:1-16

1  The word of the LORD came to me: 2  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3  You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4  The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5  So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6  My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

7  “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8  As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9  therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:  10  Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

11  “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12  As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13  And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14  I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15  I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. 16  I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

Observations

This is one of the most powerful Old Testament Texts that describes the heart of God for His people, and also sets our God’s expectation for those who are in positions of leadership over His people.

  1. Carefully read the text and list the accusations the Lord makes against the shepherds of Israel in the days of Ezekiel.
  2. From reading this portion in Ezekiel, what understanding do you gain from the Lord about how he feels towards His people?

Reflections

  1. Ezekiel wrote this section about the task of leadership in the metaphor of a shepherd. So translate these tasks of the leader into contemporary language, with specific reference to the pastor(s) in a local congregation, explain what it refers to and how do you do it:
    1. “feed the sheep”
    2. “strengthen the weak”
    3. “heal this sick”
    4. “bind the injured”
    5. “find the lost and bring back the scattered”
  2. Likewise explain in contemporary language what the Lord condemns in the leaders of Ezekiel’s day:
    1. 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.”
    2. “4 … with force and harshness you have ruled them.”  
    3. “6 My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.”

Prayer

Praise God for His tender and loving heart towards His people – AND YOU – displayed in this Text.  Then, in your own words explain to God what you long for in “pastoral care”, reminding the Him that He promised to shepherd His own people.  Then pray for your pastor, that God would stir him to pastor God’s people with patience, tenderness and diligence – as the Lord Himself demonstrated.

[Photo from Daily Telegraph]

Five-Fold Ministry 1

The aim of this devotional Bible Study is to grow in understanding of the ministry within the local church, and its purpose in your life.

Scripture

Ephesians 4:1-16

1  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  4  There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

7  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  8  Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9  (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?  10  He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

11  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

15  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Observation

Note: Paul wrote this letter to a divided, conflicting church, appealing for their peace and unity in Christ, since both groups have been saved by grace through faith and brought near to God and built into one House for God (see Ephesians chapter 2).

  1. As we frequently do, briefly summarize the message of these sections in your own words.
  • Verses 1-6
  • Verses 7-10
  • Verses 11-14
  • Verses 15-16
  1. How do you understand the phrase “to each is given a gift according to Christ’s grace”?
  2. In verse 11 Paul mentions five offices given to the church. In your own words list the purpose of these “offices” in the church.

Reflection

  1. In this section, how do you see the progression of Paul’s chain of thought from “UNITY” to “CHRIST’S GIFTS” to “FIVE-FOLD MINISTRIES” to “GROWING UP”?
  2. When you see apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” do you view them as “gifts from Christ to the church”? Why? Why not?
  3. In which ways do these ministers (the leaders in church whom you know) contribute to your spiritual growth?
  4. How can you position yourself in relation to these ministers to allow for more effective growth? (Or, what can you do to maximize your growth by their help?)

Application and prayer

In meditating on this text, talk with God about UNITY in your Congregation, to the ministers Christ has gifted your church with, as well as your growth “into the fullness of Christ himself.”  Prayerfully reflect on what you have grown in recently, and what are you growing in currently that makes you look more like Christ.