When Moses and the people prepared to build the tabernacle, God gifted the people with the resources and the abilities needed to create a place of beauty and artistry. Then He stirred their hearts so they gave so much that there was more than enough.
What would happen if God’s people today freely gave of all the gifts and abilities He has so graciously provided? Would there once again be more than enough?
It’s certainly important to give and serve as we have the ability and means to do and as God moves on our hearts. But are there seasons when we should wait?
Exodus 35 & 36
Are There Seasons for Ministry?
Exodus 35 & 36:
More than Enough
Several things in these two chapters caught my attention. First in chapter 35:
22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25 All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.
And in chapter 36:
2 Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. 3 So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning.
And the result:
4 Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, 5 and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much.
And the result is more than enough.
I wonder what our churches could do today if all, or even most, of the members were willing to use the gifts and talents God had given them and to give freely of the resources God had provided.
There would be no need of long-term building programs and no shortage of opportunities to provide ministry to a hurting world!
The Seasons of Ministry
It’s certainly important to give and serve as we have the ability and means to do. But there is another issue that I have encountered throughout my years in ministry.
I believe that ministry has seasons. Since biblical counseling has been one of my primary areas of ministry, I’ve frequently met young women who are obviously gifted in the area of counseling. They often have the desire to grow and be trained in that area, but they have young children at home and a busy household. They may even be homeschooling or involved in other things with their children. They can get frustrated because they simply don’t have the time to do what they believe they’re called to do.
I explain to them that it may be a calling, but it may not be the right time to do it in a formal way. Instead of pushing them to make time and add too much stress on their family, I tell them to do what they can.
I encourage them to read good books like Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands that can help them give better counsel to their friends and family members. I tell them we are all counselors. Parenting is counseling. Giving advice to a friend is counseling. We’re all counseling. The question is are we counseling biblically.
I send them to websites like the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation where they can find hundreds of free audio and other resources to help them counsel well. They can listen to them as they have the time or the need to better understand a particular issue (cutting, eating disorders, parenting a special needs child, etc.). They even have a certification program that can be completed for little or nothing financially and at your own pace.
I tell them to keep growing and when their children are a little older, they may be able to get more involved.
I believe the same principle is true for other areas of ministry. As wives and mothers, we need to understand that our most important ministry is in our homes to our husbands and children. This is especially true if we are married to an unbeliever. Many husbands are turned off to the things of God because their wives expect to be at church every time the doors open.
If you want to read a more in-depth post about living with an unbeliever, you might want to read, “Marriage Made in Heaven? Living with an Unbeliever.”
The same is true for husbands with young families. They need to focus on leading their families, taking the responsibility to teach them the Word by leading family devotions and spending time with their wives and children.
This doesn’t mean young parents should never be involved at their churches, but that it must be kept in balance.
But what about the other end of the spectrum?
I’m talking about those who are retired or find themselves with an empty nest. Too many of us think it’s time to just sit back and relax. We think we’ve put in our time in the nursery or teaching Sunday school. We’ve cooked meals for those who are homebound or ill. We’ve served and now we’re done. Seriously?
The last thing Moses did was climb a mountain (Deut. 34.1-5). Caleb asked for a mountain full of giants at the age of 85 (Josh. 14.6-15). He was confident that God would be with him and enable him to conquer the giants and take his inheritance. Paul was still studying and writing Scripture as he approached his death (2 Tim. 4.6-8). The aging Apostle John received a vision from God that we know as the book of Revelation.
Nowhere does it say we’re to retire from serving the Lord. Yes, there may be things we once did, that we must moderate or do in a different way. But if we’re still breathing there are things we can be doing to further the kingdom.
Titus 2 tells us:
1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
May we ask God for the wisdom and energy to finish well.
Today’s Other Readings:
He Was Forsaken So We Could Be Accepted
Verse 1, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?”
While David, as a type of Christ, may have experienced some of the feelings expressed in this psalm, it was completely fulfilled in Christ as He experienced, not only, the physical reality of death, but separation from His Father.
He was forsaken so that we could be accepted as His beloved (Eph. 1.6).
Wisdom is the Better Thing
Yesterday we saw that wisdom is available to anyone who desires it. But even though it is readily available, it is not a cheap or common thing.
Verses 10-11, “Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.”
A person can have all the gifts and talents, all the resources, and all the opportunities in the world, but without the wisdom to use them wisely, they will come to naught!
He’s Not Surprised by Our Failures
It was night and Jesus had gone with His disciples to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. He had warned them that He would be betrayed and that all of them would desert Him. I love Peter’s and the other disciples’ responses in verses 33-35:
33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
What I love about it is not that the disciples were sure they wouldn’t desert Him, but that He knew beforehand that they would. Yet, He still lovingly taught and instructed them and then, immediately after the resurrection, went to them. He even sought Peter out personally to restore Him.
Meditate on that for a minute. When you and I fail, it is not a surprise to Him either. He is just as ready and just as available to restore us, as well! Hallelujah!
In the coming days, we’ll talk about how to rate yourself on biblical love, offering God your best, the importance of defending your faith, and pose the question, “Could you be raising little hypocrites?”
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Today’s Featured Resource:
We might be relieved if God placed our sanctification only in the hands of trained professionals, but that is not his plan. Instead, through the ministry of every part of the body, the whole church will mature in Christ.
Paul David Tripp helps us discover where change is needed in our own lives and the lives of others. Following the example of Jesus, Tripp reveals how to get to know people, and how to lovingly speak truth to them.