What is a Fruitful Ministry?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
If we look only at the apparent fruit of our ministries, we’re probably getting a distorted picture of what God is seeing. Comparing the “ministries” and “fruit” of Jonah and Noah will show you what I mean. After a rocky start, Jonah went on to preach a city-wide sermon warning of the coming judgment of God unless they repented. The entire city responded and around 120,000 people turned to God! It was one of the most amazing “revivals” or “awakenings” in history.
Then there’s Noah. For 120 years he warned the people of God’s coming wrath against their sins. No one listened. Not one! In the end, only Noah and his family joined the animals on the ark. Zero converts.
Fast forward to the book of Hebrews, Chapter 11, the great “Hall of Fame for the Faithful.” Perhaps the most memorable verse in the chapter is verse 6:
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Guess who is mentioned right after this verse as an example of someone who, under impossible circumstances, came to God, believing in Him and what he said, and trusting that his faith would be rewarded. It was Noah. Despite his pathetic evangelistic bottom line, God place him in a prominent position in the Hall of Fame of the Faithful. Guess who didn’t make the cut. Jonah. You won’t find his name anywhere in the chapter.
AS I SEE IT
If you are pouring yourself out for the Lord, with little to show for it, take heart. Remember Noah. God knew he and his family would be the only humans on the ark and He knew Noah and his family would undergo ridicule…for 120 years. Yet, He commanded him to build and fill the ark as per God’ specifications. The stories of Noah’s preaching are pure conjecture, because the Bible never tells us what he told the people as they watched Noah and his sons construct this strange looking object, but we can imagine. What we do know is that Noah was blameless and he walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Knowing that, we can fill in a lot of the blanks with reasonable certainty. Let’s look at what the Hall of Fame chapter says about Noah:
And by faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen [rain], in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Hebrews 11:7).
Above all else, Noah walked with God. Jonah ran from God. Noah desired and pursued intimacy with God. Jonah separated himself from God. Even after his tremendously successful evangelistic crusade, Jonah resents the compassion God had shown to the Ninevites and he wanted to die. What a contrast! Noah sought intimacy with God to the degree that he would do anything for him, no matter how ridiculous it sounded. As a result, he was honored by God and every generation knows about it.
Noah has set the standard. Compare what God has asked you to do with what he was asked to do. God is looking for faithful followers who, above all else, seek God and are willing to do anything to reach the goal, regardless of the cost.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
When we hear or read “sexually transmitted,” why do we think of diseases instead of life itself?
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