The hardest thing for me to know is when and how to stop what I shouldn’t be doing and start what I know I need to be doing. For every beginning there has to be an ending. We can see this in the Gospels. While Jesus is preparing for His ministry through baptism and temptation, John the Baptist’s ministry faces an unexpected end.
John had plowed through the fertile yet barren hearts of the people making a way for the Messiah to sow seeds of hope and life. This perfect plan was prerecorded in the Hebrew texts. All would happen exactly as God had ordained. It always does. The secret is in knowing what God is saying in His prophecies.
Sometimes the secret is discovered in verses often overlooked. The thrill of His Word is when you least expect; He opens your mind to a hidden truth that changes everything. This happened to me a few weeks ago as Mike was preaching.
The passage for the sermon was Luke 24:36-52. Mike’s sermon went one direction but God took me on a personal path. Eleven words. One verse and I saw the secret. Nestled between the red words of Jesus speaking of how He had to fulfill the prophesies of scripture is verse 45.
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Oh, praise His Holy name, there it is. He will open my mind so that I can understand what He is saying to me concerning His work on this earth. Just in case I doubt Him, all I have to do is back up a few verses and He demonstrated how He does it.
The two disheartened disciples walking to Emmaus were completely confused. Jesus is dead and evil had won. Or at least that’s how they saw it. Until the stranger rebuked them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” He then opened their minds and they saw Truth.
All we need is for our Lord to open our minds. Make this prayer a passionate discipline each time you read His Word. Great Revealer of truth and mystery, open my mind so I can see Jesus.
Let’s add our deeper Bible study here. Don’t forget to pray first. Even if you skip this section, please scroll to the bottom and read the points on endings for beginnings. Thanks.
Read the prophecies concerning John the Baptist:
Malachi 4:5-6 and Luke 1:16-17
What was his role in the Kingdom plan?
Jesus had to fulfill prophecy about His own ministry. Read the following:
Isaiah 29:18-21, 35:5-6, 61, Luke 4:16-21
Record the highlights from the above passages.
There was a time when everything seemed hopeless to John. He was an innocent prisoner on death row. Doubts began to haunt his soul. Fortunately, he knew the secret. He sent for the One who could open his mind and make every clear again.
Read Luke 7:18-28. Do you see familiar words from prophecy?
All Jesus needed to do was to remind John of the Kingdom plan. Can you imagine hearing the incarnate God speak the very words that describe Him as the Messiah? The ‘aha’ moment for John, “Jesus is doing exactly what the Word had said. I did exactly what the Word had said. All is well. Nothing is missing. I can die in peace.”
When in doubt, check to see if your ministry matches the Word or call of God. Are you living in the peace of His mission for you?
Jesus began His ministry where John’s ministry ended. One had to die for the other to be fruitful. Isn’t this God’s way? Have you let all of the old self die? Is there anything you are relentlessly holding on to that is hindering His new thing? Maybe this checklist will help.
- Be called by God. Know that your ministry matches His prophecy. John may have imagined grand plans of traveling with Jesus and being a partner in His Messianic ministry. But God called John to be the one who prepared the way…the plower. Never was he intended to be the sower (Jesus) or the reaper (Spirit).
- Be anointed for the calling by the baptism of Holy Spirit. (We’ll study this deeper in the coming days.)
- Die to the old. Die to preconceived grand self-centered ministries.
- Start immediately when He speaks the new thing. As soon as John was put in prison, Jesus picked up the message and continued on. The message must never end. His Word will continue to be preached to the ends of the earth. I wonder how many endings have not had new beginnings because we didn’t heed the call? Consider the next time someone approaches you about a ministry…could it be the call? Never make excuses, go to God for confirmation. John knew Jesus was the One for which he was preparing the way. He announced the next thing. Pastors, teachers, leaders, when you know your time is coming to an end, begin to prepare the way for the new thing. Seek God’s call so that you can announce His will. Selfishness keeps us focused only on what is best for us and our future or worse yet, our ego.
- Persevere until the end holding tight to the Word. When in doubt, cry out, “Jesus! Open my mind.”