Lesson 2: Realize Where Your Authority Comes From
“And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee” (Mark 1:21-28).
It is interesting that Jesus steps onto the scene and is engaged in teaching and preaching in the synagogues and then in dealing with the devil himself. As ministers of the Lord, our authority does not rest on our personal experience, our grand education, or in the greatness of our personality. Our expertise comes from the foundational truths of God’s Word. It is the authority of God’s Word which will change a life. As ministers, we cannot find some “new” truth which will be enlightening to this age. Yes, I understand that God does bring leaders into this world and uses them to help further His kingdom, but sometimes we are looking for that special missing ingredient. Could it be that you are not spending enough time in the sacred text of Scriptures? The Scriptures have what we need in dealing with the naysayers, the religious crowd, and with the devil himself.
Lesson 3: Be Available for God to Use You in Multiple Venues
“And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him” (Mark 1:29-34).
I find it interesting that our Savior was in the synagogues, in the house of His disciples, and then sitting outside until the sun was setting meeting, greeting, and healing folks that heard of His presence. A few verses later in the text, Jesus mentions moving to other towns (notice it is plural) to preach and teach. Christ mentions that this is the reason He came, and as Christ mentioned to His parents in Luke 2, that He must be about His “Father’s business.” Christ was available to minister to the needs of those around Him. I understand needing time to study and that a pastor should be “prayed up and studied up” for His Sunday duties, but be careful of always being about the study and never about the sheep. A minister should be available to meet the needs of the flock that God has given him. Don’t get so busy with administrative life that you forget that you would not have that life if it were not for the flock that God has given you. Be available to meet the spiritual needs of your flock.
Lesson 4: Learn to Sit at the Feet of Him Who Can Sustain Your Duties
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils” (Mark 1:35-39).
It is not a coincidence that in Mark 1 we are reading of Christ rising up a great while before day. Recently, I was on a campout with our teenagers. We were doing a back-to-school campout revival. I was thrilled to walk up and hear one of the staff at morning devotion time challenging the teens to be more sincere and dedicated to their prayer time. One thing that he was challenging them to do is to try to set an extra hour or so a week aside just for prayer. His statement later in the lesson was challenging to me. He told the teens that if they decided to take this challenge, they would find it to be one of the hardest things they ever attempted. I have found this to be true. I can do many activities such as visitation, studying, planning, and counseling, but the hardest task of all is to spend extra time in prayer for my own spiritual well being. May God help us who minister to others to realize that our strength for the journey is not within ourselves, but with Him Who has all power. We truly have a wonderful Savior!
Lesson 5: Don’t Be Afraid of Horrible Situations
“And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed” (Mark 1:40-42).
I would challenge the reader to do a study on leprosy during the time of Christ. It was a horrible disease that pictures the decaying and destructive influence of sin. There was not anything good about having leprosy. It was also very common to have no contact with a leprous person. Christ was different and His ministers should be as well. Over the course of decades in ministry, I have seen spiritual leprosy, and I have had the wondrous view of what Christ can do to a heart that finds cleansing through Christ. It is true that we live in a dark age in America. The forces of evil seem to be ever strengthening, but does that mean that Christ’s healing power is ineffective? No, on the contrary, we should ever be looking for folks who are “leprous” in their sinful ways. They are downtrodden and heading for damnation. With Christ’s saving power, a sinner can be changed.
My prayer is that through this quick study of the life of Christ we can see that we can bring help to the hurting. Christ was a great shepherd. As undershepherds for Him, let’s bring the healing that is available from an omnipotent, omniscient Savior.