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Ministering as a priest

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					Monday                                                 Week 4
Ministering as a priest
We should always remind ourselves that we walk in the stead and
faith of those who have gone before us. As King David walked in
the faith of Jacob, we walk in ‘like precious faith’. We are being
built together as a spiritual house. Accordingly, we must vow like
Jacob and David towards Bethel. In so doing, we will find the
Lord, the Mighty One of Jacob. Likewise, we are a holy priesthood
offering up spiritual sacrifices. These are the governing
parameters; the lines of our sanctification. Like Paul, we must
minister as priests to our God.

Paul summarised the scope of his ministry in this way. He was a
priest, and every other definition and designation of Paul’s
ministry was subservient to this. He wrote in his letter to the
Romans that grace had been given to him by God to ‘priest the
gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become
acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit’. With this in view, we
will understand Paul’s ministry to all the churches.

Of particular interest to us was his constant desire to bring
offerings for the church in Jerusalem. There are at least two
occasions when Paul did so. The first occasion was with Barnabas
when he took the offering from the saints in Antioch and brought
them to the apostles’ feet. Then it’s clearly apparent that
throughout his travels, he collected offerings from all the Gentile
churches for the saints in Jerusalem. At the level of human need,
the church in Jerusalem was suffering duress and hardship. But
more so, the Gentile churches were indebted to Jerusalem because
they had shared in the fellowship of spiritual things, and
accordingly, were indebted to minister to them in material things.

References:                Further Study             Daily Psalm
2 Pet 1:1     1 Pet 2:5    2 Cor 9                       Psalm 108
Rev 5:10      1 Cor 9:11
Acts 11:29-30
Acts 12:24-25
Rom 15:15-16, 27

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Tuesday                                                  Week 4
Abounding in the work
Paul considered the offering of the Gentiles to be the fruit of his
ministry by which the fullness of the blessing of Christ would rest
upon them all. This is indeed the blessing of Abraham to which all
the fathers of faith made vows and commitments. In the fullness of
this blessing, Paul recommended to the Corinthian church that
they always abound in the work of the Lord.

This is a most interesting statement when we consider that Paul
had just written about the resurrection of the dead. At first glance,
the two propositions do not appear to be connected. Nevertheless,
we quickly conclude that to be steadfast, immovable, and
abounding in the work of the Lord, we will most certainly need
the resurrection power of Christ to do so. Paul had written
concerning death being swallowed up in victory and asked the
question, ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your
sting?’. And he wrote, ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ’.

If we are to abound in the work of the Lord and serve the purpose
of God in our generation, we will most certainly need to make
vows and commitments. As it was for David and Abraham, so it is
for us. When we vow and commit, the Lord swears an oath
concerning our sonship, our life and our work. And the substance
of His oath is the blessing of Abraham. ‘God made the promise to
Abraham … He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you
and I will surely multiply you”.’ The oath is the capacity and
provision for all increase, enabling us to abound in the work.



References:                 Further Study              Daily Psalm
Rom 15:28-29                Gen 22                         Psalm 109
1 Cor 15:55, 57-58
Heb 6:13-14


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Wednesday                                               Week 4
Set aside on the first day
If we remove the distinction between chapters 15 and 16 of Paul’s
first letter to the Corinthians, which of course does not exist in
the original text, he proceeds immediately from exhorting us
toward ‘always abounding in the work’ to saying, ‘On the first day
of every week let each of you set aside’. Paul was referring to the
offering for the saints in Jerusalem. And he was recommending
that all the churches, and particularly the Corinthians, make
commitments and vows for the period of one year by which they
could raise an offering for the stricken Jerusalem church. The
Corinthian church was most eager to participate in this gracious
gift.

In his first letter, Paul indicated his intention to come to Corinth
after he had journeyed through the churches in the region of
Macedonia. Nevertheless, before reaching the Corinthians he
wrote a second letter urging them to complete and fulfil the vow
which they had made a year ago. Perhaps he had some inkling that
they may have lost their overall sense of impetus and priority
toward the offering. As Paul had previously written to them, being
prepared to fulfil their vow required them to set aside weekly.
Like the Corinthians, and indeed all the churches, we should
recognise the increments that are necessary to our involvement in
the Lord’s work. If the provision of our offering is to be of real
benefit and blessing, we will need to measure the incremental
fulfilment of our vows.

Paul was appealing to the churches to take their vows and
commitments seriously. The period of the vow was one year. He,
and indeed the church in Jerusalem, was depending upon the
provision being ready on time.
References:                Further Study         Daily Psalm
1 Cor 15:58                2 Cor 8                   Psalm 110
1 Cor 16:2-3, 5
2 Cor 8:10-11


                                 18
Thursday                                                     Week 4
Choosing to make vows
In many respects, our vows and the sacrifice of thanksgiving is the
high point of our offering. They are in no way ‘commanded’ by the
Lord. By this we mean that there is no definite requirement upon
us to make vows and offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. As the
substance of the peace offering, it is always given freely from the
substance of our increase. Paul exhorted us to offer to God an
acceptable priesthood. And likewise he said, ‘Let us continually
offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips’. In the
same way, the psalmist said, ‘To You I shall offer a sacrifice of
thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my
vows’.

We should recall that the primary purpose of a vow is to build the
house of the Lord. If we are to be built up as a spiritual house, a
holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices, then we will need
to make vows and commitments.

There are two clear benefits and outcomes in the making of vows
and the presentation of our offerings. Firstly, they meet the
material needs of the saints and provide abundance for the work of
the Lord. Secondly, Paul said that he did not seek the gift itself,
‘but I seek the profit which increases to your account’. Likewise he
said, ‘I do not seek what is yours, but you’. It is our clear goal to
obtain an abundant entry into His everlasting kingdom. God loves
a cheerful giver. He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, but
He who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. When we fulfil our
vows, the Lord increases the harvest of our righteousness.



References:                   Further Study                Daily Psalm
Heb 12:28       Heb 13:15     Psa 116                           Psalm 111
Psa 116:17-18 Lev 7:13, 15
Lev 22:29       Phil 4:17
2 Cor 12:14
2 Cor 9:6, 10, 12
                                    19
Friday                                                    Week 4
The fellowship of the vow
Let us consider again that we are a royal priesthood and a holy
nation. Of course, Paul defined himself in exactly this way. He was
a priest. He made vows and fulfilled them. And accordingly, he
commended the same priesthood to all the churches. The high
point of this work was his offering of the Gentiles as an acceptable
sacrifice to the Lord.

The substance of Paul’s offering was two-fold. Firstly, he
considered the people themselves to be his offering to the Lord;
the fruit of his priesthood. Secondly, he considered the priesthood
of all the Gentile churches to be effective in the fulfilling of their
vows and offerings. They had been pleased to set aside on the first
day of the week for one year and make an offering for the poor
among the saints in Jerusalem. Paul rejoiced that all the churches
had joined the fellowship of giving and receiving but particularly
for Jerusalem from whom the word had sounded forth in the
beginning. Their participation in material provision was the
evidence of the fellowship of offering. But more than this, it was
the recognition of their indebtedness to those who had gone
before them.

To the apostle Paul, the fruit of their priesthood went far beyond
the provision of the temporal needs of a church in crisis. Paul was
eager to set his seal upon their fruit, and he considered it to have
everlasting benefit. Indeed, it was the seal of his apostleship and
his priesthood on the fruit of their sonship. If we are presenting
our bodies as living sacrifices, then we will evidently be making
vows and bringing spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God.
This is our reasonable and priestly service of worship and our
participation in the fellowship of giving and receiving.
References:                 Further Study              Daily Psalm
1 Pet 2:9                   Rom 15                         Psalm 112
Rom 15:26
Rom 12:1



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