The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way

K.P. Yohannan

I spoke this message to our fellowship on

July 30, 2002. It was one of those days

especially set apart for prayer and waiting

upon the Lord. We began with hours of

worship and adoration, during which the

Lord became very real to us.

What I share here was the result of a

growing burden God gave me during that

time, calling us to remember once more that

we must continually draw near to Him, to

hear Him and grow in our love and understanding

of Him. To try to do any ministry

apart from this is a sad mistake.

Our emphasis—no matter what we

do—must always be to know the Lord and

His ways. Only then can the work be done in

total dependence upon Him. Only then can

our work bring Him glory.

May the Lord draw you closer to Himself

as you read this.

 

I’m looking for one who will wait and watch

For My beckoning hand, My eye—

Who will work in My manner the work I give,

And the work I give not pass by.

And oh the joy that is brought to Me

When one such as this I can find—

A man who will do all My will,

Who is set to study his Master’s mind.1

Recently in our ministry, there has been

a spiritual renewal taking place in the

lives of our leaders on the mission field. As

a result, these leaders have called for 90 days

of continuous chain-prayer, involving thousands

of people, to seek the Lord for greater

spiritual reality and renewal among those

who serve with us.

It all began when some of our senior

leaders met for four days of planning and

consultation concerning the ministry and

what needed to be done. Because the work

is growing so fast, we remain with only one

thing that is permanent—change. Every

two or three years, new systems need to be

deployed to handle the increase. People

have to be transferred. Strategies must be

reworked. It is often out of sheer necessity

and urgency that these meetings are called.

Several meetings were scheduled throughout

the Indian subcontinent, with the first

one taking place in North India with 25

leaders present. As usual, their time started

off with the first few hours of the first

day’s meeting in a time of worship. The

room was filled with worship and prayer,

but as time went on, the prayers wouldn’t

stop. They continued on into the evening,

and the Lord’s presence became very real

in that place.

God began to speak through one of the

senior leaders in attendance. With a specific

word given to him, he spoke what the Lord

was saying to the leaders individually. The

Lord knew just what each one was facing

in their lives and ministry, and He exhorted

them and spoke the exact word needed at

that time.

After this, a general message from the

Lord was given for everyone in the meeting.

The essence of the message was, “You are

extremely busy in doing My work and meeting

the desperate need of the lost world.

You sacrifice and suffer for Me. I am very

happy and very pleased with what you are

doing for Me. You share My concern, My

burden, and I am well pleased. But, at the

same time, I am sad because your love for

Me is growing thin.”

There was no judgment, no condemnation

in what God spoke to them. But those words

changed the entire agenda for their meeting.

Instead of seeking solutions on how to handle

the work, their first priority became just

to stay in the place of prayer and worship and

draw closer to Him.

At the next meeting place, a similar incident

happened. God began to speak the exact

same message through someone else.

Discerning that this was a serious matter

on the heart of God, the leaders called for

everyone throughout our work to take time

and personally seek the Lord concerning

this message.

When I heard what had happened and all

that had taken place, I began to think deeply

about what the Lord had said during these

meetings. It reminded me of what He spoke

to the church of Ephesus. He commended

them for all the good work they were doing,

but then, just like in our leaders meeting, He

said, “I am sad also.”

I know your works, your labor, your

patience, and that you cannot bear those

who are evil. And you have tested those

who say they are apostles and are not,

and have found them liars; and you have

persevered and have patience, and have

labored for My name’s sake and have not

become weary. Nevertheless, I have this

against you, that you have left your first

love. Remember therefore from where

you have fallen; repent and do the first

works (Revelation 2:2–5, emphasis mine).

In the midst of intense work and ministry,

the Lord was saddened. Why? Because their

love for Him was fading away.

Nothing about their ministry had

changed. The Lord said that He had seen

their work, their labor, the patience and

endurance that they had in it all. He commended

them for their work and the lives they were                                                                                                           affecting. But somehow, in it all,                                                                                                                            their hearts had changed.

My brothers and sisters, we can be in the

same danger.

The ministry that was first done unto Him

and out of their love for Him now began

operating under a different intent. If we are

not careful, we can become so consumed

with serving the ministry God gave us and

forget the Lord Himself.

This is why He cries out to them (paraphrase),

“Repent and return to your first love.

Then continue with the ministry I have given

you. Minister because you love Me. Whatever

you do, do it as unto Me.”

 

A Definition

What is doing the Lord’s work in the

Lord’s way? We must properly define it so

that we may be able to attain it.

In Matthew 25:40 (KJV), Jesus defines true

ministry—doing the Lord’s work in His way—

in one simple sentence: “Verily I say unto

you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of

the least of these my brethren, ye have done it

unto me.”

Christian ministry, by nature, affects and

benefits humanity. We serve God by serving

people. The ministry that God has called you

to is never isolated from the people He has

placed in your life. However, there is a balance

that must be kept in Christian service.

It is not just a balance of external priorities,

what is done first and what is done second,

but one that runs much deeper and is the

well out of which all ministry springs. It is

the attitude of the heart.

Doing the Lord’s work in His way is living

in the awareness that whatever we are

doing, whatever ministry the Lord has called

us to, forever we maintain the understanding

that we do it unto Him. Our service must

be rooted in Him, motivated by our love for

Him and done with the desire to exalt His

name and His name alone.

There will come a time when each of us

and the ministry the Lord gave us to do on

this earth will be tested by fire (see 1 Corinthians

3:13). Only that ministry which was

done in His way will last. It does not matter

what it may have looked like on this earth, it

does not matter how well-known it may have

been or how much fruit it may have seemed

to produce. If it was not done as unto Him,

it was not done in His way . . . and it will

not stand in eternity.

My brothers and sisters, I share this message

with you soberly, knowing how easy it

is to run about with our own ideas and our

own agendas. Everything can look so good

and we can seem to be running on the right

track. But if our understanding toward ministry

has moved from being one of ministry

unto Him to getting results, building a name

and serving the people, we are dangerously

off course.

 

How All Is Lost

How is it that, even in ministry, we can

lose our first love?

It all begins when we neglect to come into

His presence and sit at His feet. It is in His

presence that we grow in our understanding

of Him and His ways, and are equipped to go

and carry out the ministry He gave us to do.

Our lives take on the atmosphere of living

moment by moment waiting, listening for

His voice and being sensitive to Him, seeking

to do what He desires.

But when we walk away from this, unfortunately

it doesn’t mean that all ministry

screeches to a halt. In fact, the “ministry”

can seem to carry on as usual. The need

is still there. The people are still there. Yet

when we choose to carry on without waiting

before Him, we take the first step off of

the right road. We may take well-meaning

actions to see the ministry continue, but they

are independent actions if not born out of

His presence.

One of these well-meaning actions, for

example, is taking on work that God did not

give to us, just because the need is so great,

the opportunities seem unlimited, and we

are driven by urgency.

I know for our ministry, the need is absolutely

huge, mind-boggling. We need to get

the Gospel to so many people before they

die and are lost for eternity. So it is logical

and reasonable to be absolutely committed

and fully involved in doing everything we

possibly can to reach the lost. But if we do

this independent of Him, our love for and

intimacy with the Lord begin to fade away

and our ministry cannot be pleasing to Him,

no matter what kind of fruit it is producing.

As a ministry, we have found that the

safest thing we can do is to come into the

Lord’s presence and draw closer to Him, that

we may know His ways and follow His lead.

In the beginning of our ministry, we would

ask the Lord, “What more can we do?” Now

it is different. As one of the fastest-growing

movements, we are continually challenged

and confronted with so many things we

could do. So much so that our major concern

has become, “Lord, what should we

not do?”

Another independent action that results

in the loss of intimacy and love for the Lord

is when we fail to stop and ask Him how He

wants His work to be done.

Oftentimes, meeting the current needs

becomes more important than how ministry

is done. It is in response to necessity that we

often create new structures, new systems, new

leaders and new training, and we just keep

being pulled in all kinds of directions. It is

easy to be so consumed by the immediate

that it eventually becomes the focus.

We can be spending all our time trying to

get the track built for the train to run on, trying

to organize and facilitate, yet never stopping

to consider that maybe the Lord doesn’t

need all these structures and plans. Maybe He

has all kinds of other ways to do this ministry.

But we are so consumed with our business

mind and structure and logic that we just

keep on doing things in our own ways.

Recently I have been increasingly concerned

about this, and God’s speaking to

us has strengthened that concern. I wonder,

“Lord, is this the way we should be functioning

and serving You?”

We have often seen how God, in His

mercy, steps in, like in our leaders meeting,

and changes our plans, setting first thing first.

I am so thankful that the Lord had the

freedom to come to us in that way even when

none of our leaders expected it. It is a relief to

know He is with us, watching over the work.

It was like spending a day out in hot, humid

summer weather and finally getting a good,

cool shower. It is refreshing! “Ah yes!” He is

with us and He is leading us.

At the same time, I was made aware that

we must be careful and concerned about

how we proceed in serving the Lord. By no

means do I want you to think I am saying

we should stop our work and not do what

we are doing. That is not how it works. In

fact, it seems the more we take the time to

wait and hear from the Lord, the more actual

work that we do—but rather in His strength,

not ours.

This is how the Lord’s work is done in His

way—by loving Him more than the ministry

He gave us to do, by waiting in His presence

to hear His voice and by continuing in

that sensitivity to Him so that we are always

doing His will, in His strength.

All that brings glory to God and lasts in

eternity must have its origin with God,

not with ourselves. Ministry is something

given to us by God. Jesus called the disciples

to follow Him; they did not call themselves.

Jesus called Paul. John the Baptist was a man

“sent from God” (John 1:6, emphasis mine).

Along with this, there is another principle

present all throughout the lives of people

mentioned in the Bible. Over and over again

we see that waiting upon God precedes the

unfolding of His plan or purpose.

One example is seen in the life of Isaiah.

It was as he waited in God’s presence that he

received the call to be a messenger to the

children of Israel (see Isaiah 6:1–9).

This is also how it happened with the

disciples’ ministry after the ascension of

Christ. Scripture says, “[Jesus] commanded

them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to

wait for the Promise of the Father” (Acts

1:4). It was as they waited upon God that

they received His call for their lives, and then

they went out proclaiming His resurrection

and salvation.

The calling of Saul and Barnabas happened

in a similar manner. Acts 13:2–3

tells us, “As they ministered to the Lord and

fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to

Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which

I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and

prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent

them away.”

Notice especially verse two—it was “as

they ministered to the Lord” that they heard

Him and found out His plan.

It was not when they had a committee

meeting (although there is nothing wrong

with committee meetings). It was not when

they met to discuss the tremendous needs

(although that is a good thing to do). It did

not happen because somebody challenged

them and said, “You had better get out there

and do something about all those lost people.”

It was not when they did something that

was a nice, wholesome, well-planned and

thought-out thing to do. It was as they waited

upon the Lord.

Before the world began, God knew

Barnabas and Saul would be the ones serving

Him in this manner. We see this same principle

at work in the life of the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the

womb I knew you; before you were born

I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to

the nations.”

It is encouraging to know that before the

world began, God knew the purpose and

plan that He has for each one of us (see Acts

17:26). Whether our human mind and our

logic can grasp it or not, it is true. ‘‘ ‘For I

know the plans that I have for you,’ declares

the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity

to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah

29:11, NASB).

However, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Saul and

Barnabas, we only learn of the plans He

already has prepared for us as we take the time

to come into His presence and hear from Him.

 

Of Greater Importance

There is also another principle we see all

throughout Scripture, one that I am much

more concerned about. That is, we must

remain in the attitude of waiting upon the Lord.

One incident in David’s life perfectly

illustrates the importance of this.

In 2 Samuel 5:19, we are told, “David

inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go up

against the Philistines? Will You deliver

them into my hand?’ And the LORD said to

David, ‘Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the

Philistines into your hand.’ ”

And so, after hearing from the Lord, David

did what He said, and he was victorious.

A few verses later, David is faced with an

almost identical circumstance. Once more

the Philistines had stationed themselves in

the same valley, and once more, they were

waiting to attack Israel.

It would have been natural for David

to respond to this battle as he did the one

before. After all, the previous plan had been

a success, and the enemy and the location

were exactly the same. David could have easily

said, “Well, it’s the same situation so let’s

just forget about another prayer meeting. We

know how to get the job done. Let’s go and

put these Philistines to flight.”

But David didn’t do that. Instead, he took

the time to once again seek the Lord.

Second Samuel 5:23 says, “Therefore

David inquired of the LORD, and He said,

 ‘You shall not go up; circle around behind

them, and come upon them in front of the

mulberry trees.’ ”

“You shall not go up.” Do you see that?

God had a different plan this time, and David

only learned of it because he lived in the

atmosphere of waiting upon God, to hear

from Him and obey. By this, his ministry was

done in connection with Him and unto Him.

There is the requirement that as we continue

in the journey the Lord has us on, we

must stop often along the way and find out

what He is saying. By doing this, our love for

the Lord stays strong, the ministry that began

out of that love for Him remains in Him and

the work done is accomplished in His way.

There are hundreds of Christian organizations,

churches, groups and ministries that

began so well. But somewhere along the way,

somehow, a lot of them stopped waiting

upon the Lord, causing their love for Him to

grow cold. As a result, their ministry ended

up in the flesh, and once again the Scripture

is fulfilled—“Are you so foolish? Having

begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected

by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3, NASB).

God addresses this same issue with His

prophets in Isaiah 29:13 (NIV), saying, “These

people come near to me with their mouth

and honor me with their lips, but their hearts

are far from me.” They may look real and

authentic; they may have started well; their

service may appear genuine, but it is not. It

cannot be because their hearts are now far

from Him.

When we stay in the attitude of continuous

dependence upon God, what has begun

in the Spirit remains in the Spirit and bears

lasting fruit.

Doing the Lord’s work in His way is of

paramount importance. If we continue the

work without His direction, leading and

strength, it won’t be His work at all. It will

be only a hollow shell that might look all

right but in reality has no life and bears no

lasting fruit.

We must come into His presence and

wait upon Him, to hear from Him and know

His ways.

But it’s not always easy to wait.

If we are honest, we will admit that we

are usually restless when we have nothing to

do. We need noises and things happening all

the time. We want to be kept busy and have

something to do at any given moment of the

day. Most of us have difficulty just being quiet

and still, waiting before the Lord.

Why is it so hard to wait? Oftentimes it

can be because our motive in the ministry

is wrong.

 

Why Restless?

In the past, we have had a couple of

families on staff with us who left the ministry

because they were dissatisfied, feeling as

though they were not doing what they considered

“real” ministry.

In one particular situation I remember

a wife who said, “I came here to serve the

Lord, and I have no ministry.” This family

had two children to take care of, but for

her, raising those children in the fear of

the Lord, serving her family and being an

intercessor for the lost world was not real

ministry. She wanted to do something that

appeared more significant.

Please understand. It is good to long to

serve God in the best way we can. But discontentment,

discouragement, frustration

and grumbling just because we don’t like

what the Lord gave us to do is not good. We

must be able to discern between truly desiring

to please the Lord and our own restlessness

and self-seeking.

We must be able to discern what is motivating

us in the work of the Lord. A lot of

times we can be pulled in many different

directions by the needs around us. And we

can like it too.

The work of the Lord certainly has its satisfaction

for the flesh. There is the crowd of

people, the results, the praise, the attention

and the “thank-yous”—all of these can really

make the flesh feel good. We definitely enjoy

the attention, the limelight and the sense of

accomplishment and self-worth that come in

ministry.

But what we are called to in serving Him

must be rooted in pleasing Him and done

out of our love for Him—not our own gratification

and glory. It must be for His.

 

Two Kinds of Servants

In Ezekiel 44, we find two groups of servants

of God. One group were the Levites

who spent their days busy, busy, busy in the

outer court of the temple serving the people

who came to worship the Lord.

These men were responsible for preparing

the sacrifices and getting them ready for

offering. Twenty-four hours a day, they were

busy in the outer court, where it was full

of people and noises. Many people saw the

work the Levites were doing; it was a very visible

thing. They were dragging the animals

in, sacrificing them and putting them on the

altar. These men were in great demand by the

multitudes, pulled in all different directions,

motivated by the screaming needs around

them and all that needed to be done.

But there was also another group—the

sons of Zadoc. These were men of the inner

court. Where they stood, there was stillness.

Unlike the outer court, the inner court was

silent. Deadly quiet. The only individual

there was God. There was no busyness, no

service in front of people, no demand but to

come into the holy of holies and minister

unto the Lord.

Let me ask you—which group are you

in? Are you like one of the sons of Zadoc,

more concerned with coming into the holy

of holies and ministering to the Lord than

being busy serving the people? Or do you

just keep going, going, going, moved in

every direction with the busyness of the ministry?

These are serious questions we must

ask ourselves.

This reminds me of the story of Martha

and Mary in Luke 10:38–42 (NIV).

As Jesus and his disciples were on their

way, he came to a village where a woman

named Martha opened her home to him.

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at

the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations

that had to be made. She came

to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you

care that my sister has left me to do the

work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,

“you are worried and upset about many

things, but only one thing is needed. Mary

has chosen what is better, and it will not

be taken away from her.”

It is clear in this passage, although our

flesh would much rather be in the center of

attention, that the better thing is to be more

concerned with sitting “at the Lord’s feet listening,”

rather than busy with all the ways we

are trying to serve God. It wasn’t that Martha’s

service was wrong. Not at all. What was

wrong was that “Martha was distracted” from

her first love by all of it. Jesus said Mary “has

chosen what is better”—to leave the busy

place of the outer courts and come into the

inner court and minister to Him.

 

Purify Our Hearts

But the truth is, we all have the same

problem—wicked hearts. We’d rather be one

of the priests who are busy standing before

the people, active in what is immediately

needed. We want our ministry to look dramatic

and effective. Our flesh wants to glory

in the praise of men.

Just think about it. If asked to do a job

that is below our educational qualifications

The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way

or beneath our dignity, how glad are we?

How eager are we to continue if the results

are not what we would like?

As humans, we often measure godliness

and spirituality by external activities or a certain

type of behavior that we see in people.

The Pharisees were considered extremely spiritual

people by the way they fasted and prayed

and put on a humble demeanor.

Yet we know how Jesus spoke of them,

identifying them for what they truly were

and pronouncing the worst judgment upon

them (see Matthew 23:13). Despite how

spiritual they looked, they did not know the

Father. And without that, all their religious

activity meant nothing. The motivation

behind all their action was full of self, not

love for God. The motive is what makes the

work spiritual or unspiritual.

We shouldn’t worry about how things

look, what people might be saying, or

whether or not there are the results we

thought there would be. Our number-one

concern must be to know Him and His ways

and to follow His lead.

When we live like this, what happens,

whether good or bad in man’s sight, whether

productive or useless in man’s opinion has

no bearing. We are not working for human

beings. We are doing it because of our love

for Him. It is ministry unto Him, and this

pleases Him.

May we be reminded of the words of Paul,

who facing incredible responsibilities, great

need and overwhelming difficulties still said,

“None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24).

The difficulties and problems, all the blessings

and praise, the good and the bad that

happened, none of these things changed his

course. Issues of personal life or loss did not

sway him. All he wanted to do was the ministry

the Lord gave him to do. Nothing else and

nobody else motivated him.

Please, we need to evaluate what our

motive has been in serving the Lord. Are we

seeking to meet the need around us, or are

we seeking to know and please Him? Are

we controlled, motivated and energized by

our talents and by opportunities that present

themselves? Do needs and others’ voices

guide our course? Or do we really know, in

our innermost being, that we are serving our

King? Ask yourself these questions.

Whatever we are doing, whoever we are

serving, we must be able to do it all with the

heart attitude that we are doing this for no

one but our God.

About goodnessofgod2010

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One Response to The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way

  1. kennedy says:

    Am pastor Kennedy from Kenya,teaching the word of God.I have also the orphans staying with and most of them are HIV/AIDS patients who needs care and much love,they are down because of the immunity system which are getting destroyed .Most of their family member reject them and despise them that is why the lord called me to help them in a small way.
    Kindly i request you dearly to pray for them and assist them in any way.Work also with us in our ministry and help to teach the word of truth to our people who are dying without hope.
    Pastor Kennedy

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