New Wine for New Wineskins January 2019

By , January 1, 2019 10:40 am

Servant Of All

2018 is now history.

History can be helpful in equipping us to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, just as it has often been said that those who refuse to learn from history are destined to repeat it.  Our history can also provide us with a launchpad from the good things that we have learned that will give us direction as we move on into the fulfilment of our destiny.

In this first New Wine for New Wineskins of 2019 – a year for which we at New Wine Church have received the prophetic declaration of this being the year of worship in spirit and truth – I have been considering some of the particular truths that the Holy Spirit has been emphasising for us over recent months, particularly since we crossed over in the Hebrew calendar from 5778 to 5779.

I have been thinking about how there are so many things that we encounter around us that stir us up and provoke us and how important it is that we see from the right perspective and respond with the right attitude.

Even Jesus discovered in his home synagogue just how well received the good news can be when we turn it loose in all of its glorious fullness in the power of the Holy Spirit. The people were so angry and rejected his message so vehemently and violently that they chased him out of town and wanted to throw him off a cliff.

But Jesus didn’t go head to head with them that day, or call upon the hosts of heaven to come and sort them out. He simply walked away and moved on to Capernaum where he continued to teach in their synagogues where the people were open to receive his message.  Before long there were opportunities that arose out of the message that he carried to minister (serve up) healing and deliverance.

I believe there is something that we can learn that will help us in the fulfilment of our calling among the people we are commissioned to reach – the people we are here to serve.

Mark 10: 42 – 45

42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A few weeks ago I shared in one of our Sunday morning services that there are two numbers that quantify success in the kingdom – ONE and ALL.  There is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents and we know that it is not the Father’s will that any perish and miss their purpose but that all come to a place of repentance and reconciliation with him.  On the same Sunday in the evening service I once again reminded folks of the prophetic word we received a number of years ago:

I have not been building a ministry through you but I have been building a message in you, and out of the message the ministry will come.

As I had been considering this prophetic word and the fact that Scripture exhorts us to wage warfare with the prophetic words that we receive I received a fresh understanding in regards to this word.

I realised that there is incredible freedom in that prophetic word because when you are focused on building a ministry it tends to follow a particular tradition or style or setting, whereas the message that the Lord has been building in us is not bound by tradition or style or setting.

I believe that is what Paul was expressing and communicating when he wrote the following:

1 Corinthians 9: 19 – 23

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

The Message

19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralised—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

The message that the Lord has been building in us is a message that is relevant in any setting among any people and is not bound by culture or religion or attached to or limited to any style or form of expression.

In reality, our message is very simple.  In Jesus God provided salvation for everybody, and so our message is that everybody can be saved; in Jesus God provided healing for everybody, and so our message is that everybody can be healed; in Jesus God provided deliverance for everybody, and so our message is that everybody can be delivered; in Jesus God broke the power of the curse in all of its manifestations, and so our message is that everyone can transition out from under the curse and into all of the fullness of God’s blessing.

Paul said that he received the message he preached directly from the risen Lord Jesus Christ himself and so it is not surprising that his ministry probably best reflected Jesus’ own ministry.

Galatians 1: 11

11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will be witnesses to him locally, regionally, cross-culturally and internationally. There are many cultures and sub-cultures in our world and in our communities and I think cross-cultural ministry is often what we are least successful at.

Paul – just like Jesus – was the master of cross-cultural ministry because he was willing to humble himself and serve everybody.  This is particularly remarkable when you consider Paul’s history and background. Both Jesus and Paul crossed every cultural and religious boundary in order to seek and to save the lost. It is no wonder that Paul could say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.

Neither Jesus or Paul ever compromised the message that they carried but they attracted a lot of opposition, a lot of criticism, and a lot of persecution, because they were willing to go where nobody else was willing to go and engage with people that were rejected as unclean or lost causes.

It is interesting that the criticism didn’t come because they were competing with others to go to these places and to reach these people, but because they were going to places and reaching people who the criticisers had already judged from their self-exalted position as being unreachable or unworthy of their attention.

It seems that the safest place is always the lowest place, the least conspicuous place. Our security is in our humility. You won’t find too many people competing for the lowest place or the place of least visibility. When you choose the lowest place as the servant of all there is no longer any room for pride, or prejudice, or for entering situations with pre-conceived ideas.

Jesus taught that there is wisdom in choosing to go to the lowest place and then if someone asks you to come up higher it’s all good and well.

Luke 14: 7 – 14

7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honour near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: 8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honour. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!
10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honoured in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble
themselves will be exalted.”
12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbours. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

According to Jesus, first in the world is last in the kingdom and last in the world is first in the kingdom. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

When Jesus sat down with the Samaritan woman at the well he was fellowshipping cross-culturally with the lowest of the low as this lady was despised by her own people who were despised by the Jews.  And yet she is the one chosen to receive the revelation of true worship in spirit and truth, worship that releases you to be the servant of all, including the lowest of the low and the despised among the despised.

We are not here to force feed or ram our message down people’s throats, but we are here to recognise and maximise our opportunities to serve up our message.  This should always be done from the posture of a servant – from under not over.  As servants we should always be ready to give a reason to those that ask us concerning the hope that we have.

When Paul first arrived in Ephesus he recognised that the disciples there were lacking in some of the fundamentals and the basic provision that was available to them but if he had come to them in a heavy-handed way and criticising them for their spiritual immaturity he would have closed them down to his message.  I believe he came with the posture of a servant, possibly even washing their feet as he enquired of them whether they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed.

Later, when many of the people in Ephesus became resistant to his message he didn’t dig in his heels and go head to head with the dissenters. He simply moved those who were receiving his message to another location where he could continue to serve up the message of the good news of the kingdom. As a result of that strategy it is recorded that over a period of three years everyone in that region heard the word of the Lord and the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed – as the people who heard the message spread it around.

Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth.  Personally, I have never heard of a food that can’t be salted – that salt cannot penetrate and invisibly impact upon and enhance the flavour of that food. Jesus said that the only time salt is ineffective is when it has lost its saltiness. We are here to bring flavour to a flavourless world and to impact the people around us in such a way that they can taste and see that the Lord is good – so that the truth of God’s goodness can counteract and break the power of the lie that he is the orchestrator of their troubles or that there is nothing that can be done to change their situation for the better.

Jesus is our living sacrifice. He is the once and for all acceptable to God sacrifice for our sins and now he lives forever as our great high priest, interceding for us at the right hand of the Father.

That is why it says in Romans 12: 1 – 2:

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Jesus said that there was no greater expression of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. That is not a call to die for him, that is a call to live for him. When we were born again we died with him and when we were baptised we were buried with him, and when we came up out of the water we were raised with him to live a brand new life in a brand new way as living sacrifices, as obedient servants, as worshipers in spirit and truth, and as living proof of the good and acceptable and perfect will of God and what that looks like.

We are transformed – we become a completely different person – when our minds are renewed and we stop thinking like the world thinks. Philippians 2 says to let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus – the mind of a humble and obedient servant.

Paul goes on in Philippians 3: 7 – 15:

7 But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ’s sake. 8 Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognising and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), 9 And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.
10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognising and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] 11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

The resurrection life he is speaking about is for now – it flows out of the intimacy of knowing Christ Jesus, of having his mind.  And it is a knowing that produces fruit.

12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.
13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. 15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.

Worship and service are the ultimate expressions of love.

When Jesus gave the revelation of worship to a woman who was the lowest among the lowest it was the fruit of a divine appointment – he had to go to where this woman was and serve up the revelation of worship.

He also used the opportunity to raise the perspective of his disciples to see the harvest that was all around them. It is interesting that he tells them to lift up their eyes and see when their issue was with him ministering to the lowest of the low.  As I was meditating on this I realised that you will miss much of the harvest that is all around you until you choose to take the lowest place.  From the lowest place and from the perspective of choosing to be the servant of all you lift up your eyes and discover that everyone is a part of the harvest we are here to reap and that nobody is excluded.

Jesus was revealing to his disciples that no matter how low you consider someone to be or how far beneath you you might think they are, if you are going to minister to them you must humble yourself and come with the posture and the attitude and the mindset of a servant.

Jesus never belittled or demeaned people, not even those who were demon possessed. He was moved with compassion for broken people and so he spoke directly to the demons or the affliction and commanded them to go. Jesus came to serve people – to serve up salvation, and healing,
and deliverance.

It is also interesting to see how this woman responds to the revelation she has received – she really catches hold of the worship and service connection. Servants invite, they don’t command or demand. And so she goes into town and says, “Come see a man.” She is not beating them over the head with her new revelation, or assuming a superior position in the light of her new revelation, or telling the people you need what I’ve got – it can be yours if you buy my book, or attend my conference, or sign up for my webinar.  And so the people respond to her invitation to come and see this man and they discover personally for themselves that he is the Messiah.

I love the account of Paul at Athens in Acts 17: 16 – 34:

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.
19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Paul is provoked in his spirit by the idolatry he finds in Athens but he doesn’t come out all guns blazing and insult them. In fact he compliments them for their religiosity, and then he quotes some of their own poets, and takes the opportunity to introduce them to the identity of the unknown God for whom they have built an altar. Paul takes the posture of a servant and offers the good news of the kingdom to all present. His message is relevant, and it is contemporary, and it is completely inoffensive, and yet it is all of these things without being diluted or compromised in any way. 

It would appear to be obvious that all things to all men flows out of the recognition that we are the servant of all and that we are here to serve up the good news of the kingdom and all it includes in the wisdom and the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

And so, as we go about our daily lives – both inside and outside of the context of church gatherings and remembering that the majority of our life is spent outside of the context of church gatherings – let this mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus and in Paul, that we are here as a servant – the servant of all – to follow the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit and be quick to recognise the opportunities we receive to serve up salvation and healing and deliverance in a way that is always relevant and non-threatening and non-confrontational.  Let’s be quick to choose the lowest place so that we don’t miss any of the harvest that is already ripe all around us.

In this year of worship in spirit and truth let’s make intimacy with the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit our number one priority.  Knowing him, becoming like Jesus and being willing to take the lowest place. No longer being conformed to this world with its celebrity culture, but set free to take the posture of a servant and serve up the message in whatever context we find ourselves – with no personal agenda. 

If we embrace this message I believe we will begin to see people respond and freely receiving what we are freely serving, and we will see many more people coming to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Let’s make Paul’s words our prayer today as we launch out into 2019 as worshipers in spirit and truth.

1 Corinthians 9: 19 – 23

The Message

19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralised—whoever. I won’t take on their way of life, I will keep my bearings in Christ—but I will not be afraid to enter their world and try to experience things from their point of view. I will become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life….I will do all this because of the Message….I don’t just want to talk about it; I want to be in on it….


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