The urgency of spreading the Gospel has been fired up within me since the week at Reinhard Bonnke’s School of Evangelism in London. “Now is the Time” to see the kingdom increase, saving souls, encouraging the disheartened to return to their first love, Jesus, and equipping believers to take the Gospel into their communities. The inner desire to ‘Go’ has within it the need to be wise.
A couple of months ago I was reading through the book of Mark. I was encouraged to see how the author takes the reader on a geographical journey, Galilee and Judea but also a journey of Jesus ministry. The Gospel of Mark is known as the evangelist’s gospel due to the vividness and clarity in the writing style. Mark emphasises the Passion of Christ, which is what we as evangelist’s have in abundance, passion. The need for personal faith, the gospel message and power of Jesus to bring hope to the lost are at the core of Mark’s gospel. The author’s vigour and urgency in exalting Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, runs hand in hand with discipleship.
The life of discipleship and service means for many of us experiencing rejection and misunderstanding as Jesus did. Disciples are encouraged to see Jesus’ mission, take up their cross and follow him. The urgency of “Now”can over shadow all that was taught throughout the New Testament. It is so easy to focus on fulfilling “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:10) that we forfeit some of the teachings of Jesus that enable us to be wise stewards.
There are a couple of verses within Mark’s Gospel that give core principles for personal safeguard which are not always at the fore front of being a wise steward of our time. Jesus spent time discipling the twelve, in all aspects of ministry. The verses appear to be hidden, but I believe are strategically placed and significant in terms of being a wise steward especially when passion is high and God is calling us to preach the gospel. They come after Jesus rejection in Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6), the sending out of the disciples (Mark 6:7-13), the death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29) and before the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6: 33-44).
Imagine the excitement that the disciples felt, the trepidation, Jesus, the one who spoke with authority, the one who had raised the dead, healed the sick, and had released them, the disciples, to go out into the community to do as he had done. Did they think ‘now is the time’ to see Jesus acknowledged for who he was? Imagine the zeal, the passion to be imitators of Jesus; there is no suggestion in the scriptures of the amount of time they spent ministering or teaching, but it could be assumed that they didn’t rest much.
The disciples went from ministering and teaching to personal experience of loss. Imagine the grief they felt when they heard of the death of John the Baptist. Did their minds go to the rejection that Jesus encountered, did the reality of being fallible come through, did they wonder how Jesus would feel at the loss of his cousin and friend, so many things that ‘could’ be, rejection and grief are part and parcel of life. This mimics some of the things that we encounter as we walk the path of ministry.
These two verses nestled in between ministry and life issues, have the oil of protection in them, a safe guard that will help in wise stewardship.
“And the apostles gathered themselves to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, Come aside into a deserted place and rest a little. For there were many coming and going and they had no opportunity even to eat. And they departed by boat into a deserted place.” Mark 6:30-32
The verses show the disciples giving an account to Jesus. Spending time together, talking through all that they had done and taught. Then Jesus took them aside, knowing that the ingredients for rest did not include staying around people who would disturb the perfect peace that was needed to give the rest that brings restoration, the rest that was needed before the next
ministry time. It is important to see the value in both of these principles, there is wisdom in being a wise steward.
To be a wise steward of time means a balance between ministry and personal time. It enables and empowers all to maintain the vigour and passion needed in ministry. “Now is the Time” to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:10) sustained and maintained by the wisdom of Jesus.
Tina Russell-Mott (@agapetina)
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us not to worry about the practical needs of life, instead he says, 'seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' Matthew 6:33. Jesus doesn't say that these things are to be completely ignored as some Eastern religions do, just that they should be put in their place. What does this have to do with prayer? The thing is we all pray for things that are on our hearts. Kingdom prayer is simply praying for what is on God's heart.
This is how Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer. The first half of the prayer is focused on who God is, how we respond to him and (if I can put it this way) his needs. The second half is focused on us and our spiritual and physical needs. It is finished with a doxology which brings the focus of our prayer back onto God once more.
The problem is this can seem rather abstract, but how should this affect our prayers in a practical way. If we look in the Bible we are given commands which we can only fulfil through both prayer and action. We also see examples of people praying for Kingdom matters and see God answering those prayers. Here are a few examples:
Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples of all nations in the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:16-20).
Jesus commanded the disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they had been baptised with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:4-5).
The disciples prayed for boldness to share the gospel and for healings, signs and wonders when they were persecuted and God answered them (see Acts 4:29-31).
Habakkuk prayed for revival, for God to show mercy to a nation that deserved only his wrath (Habakkuk 3:2).
Praying for the Kingdom can involve large scale strategic prayer, but don't worry if that intimidates you, just broaden your prayer beyond yourself, your family, friends and your church.
Here are a few ways you can pray for the God's Kingdom to come on earth as in heaven from the above Scriptures:
If you are praying for someone to become a Christian then pray the same for all their household. Pray for the evangelistic witness of all the churches in your area. Pray for unreached people groups who have never heard the gospel. Pray for discipleship in your church for everyone to grow in their faith in Jesus.
If the disciples needed to be baptised in, and continually filled with, the Holy Spirit so do we. Ask Jesus to baptise you in the Holy Spirit if you haven't been and keep asking until he does, which he will. If you have been baptised in the Holy Spirit, ask him to keep filling you so you overflow with his love, grace and truth.
Ask God to give you and other church members boldness to share the gospel and for God to confirm his word with healings, signs and wonders. Pray the same for Christians persecuted for their faith elsewhere in the world. Pray for God to strengthen Christians in prison for their faith.
Pray for revival in the UK, if you don't feel you have the faith to ask God to move in revival power then pray 'Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.' Mark 9:24, and God will help your faith to grow. Ask God to show you his heart for the person you find most difficult, they may deserve God's wrath (as you did once too) but ask God to show his mercy in their life and also ask him to change your own attitude to them.
If praying this way is new to you then try it, and ask God to help you to see his Kingdom and pray for it more. If you are already praying in this way, then ask God to show you more of what is on his heart and to grow your faith to pray for greater things. As you pray more for God's Kingdom to come here on earth you will find that you will not need to ask for the other things so much as you worry less, and know God's provision to a greater extent. Most of all don't forget to worship God for who he is, and to
thank him for answers to prayer whether they are Kingdom requests or personal requests.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.' Matthew 6:13.
Theresa Grant (@theresagrant3)