The advantage I had was that I was already a mature believer before I started to serve the Lord. When I was a young believer I was caught up with God, I was not caught up with serving God.
Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; MY OWN VINEYARD I HAVE NEGLECTED (Song of Songs 1:6).
BUT MY OWN VINEYARD IS MINE TO GIVE; ... (Song of Songs 8:12).
The advantage I had was that I was already a mature believer before I started to serve the Lord. When I was a young believer I was caught up with God, I was not caught up with serving God. I was not thinking about serving God. Serving God came long afterwards. I read the Bible to enjoy God, to know God. I was not looking for results, I was not even seeking to please Him. I was not born again to serve God. The first call of God to a person is to know Him profoundly and to love Him exceedingly. It is not to serve Him, or preach, or counsel or organize this or that. It is the people who are caught up with knowing God and loving Him who can go and serve Him.
The first call of God was an encounter with God and transformation and the knowledge of God, before Moses was sent to serve Him. Most people are serving the unknown God. They do not know Him but they are serving Him. Imagine a servant who spends his whole life in the service of a master he has never met. He serves correctly and gets paid, he even gets salary increases and rejoices and goes on serving without ever meeting the master. Such a servant will do his duty and answer every question concerning his work correctly, but if asked any question concerning the master he has never met – what he looks like, etc, then he is stuck. He has never known or beheld the master. Some are caught up doing this and that for the Lord, but they have never beheld His glory. They work until they are tired, but they have never beheld Him. They care for the vineyard of others but neglect their own vineyards – “MY OWN VINEYARD!” is my relationship with God.
My own vineyard is mine to give ... (Song of Songs 8:12).
Some have no vineyard to give. They give what they have borrowed from others and from ‘hearsay.’ The sending forth of people who do not know God to go and serve Him is a great evil and must be corrected.
If leaders neglect the cultivation of their own vineyards and do not specialize in building their personal intimacy with God, they will lack the power to bring others to tend their own vineyards. If your service exceeds your knowledge of God, you are wicked because you will give people that which cannot produce depth. In God’s purpose service is the overflow of union with God. When the union with God ceases, real service also ceases. The minister of the Gospel should be so rich in God that what he gives out to others is an overflow. As such, his true depth will remain untouched. The one who wants to serve God must delve into God totally, so that he can have enough of God to give to others. The wealth a man has discovered from knowing God and dwelling in His presence is true wealth. It is inner wealth. Without this inner wealth, a man has nothing to give. Worship flows from this inner wealth; ministry is an overflow of his inner wealth. The encounter with God in true worship is transformed into life and becomes wealth!
Many believers in the first few years of their ministry gave out from wealth, but they backslid. There was a time when their ministry was an overflow, but now they have given out all the wealth and are now giving out the dirt, the mud, from the bottom of their spiritual wells. They are now doing things beyond their spiritual wealth. The wise men encountered Christ and worshipped Him and after the worship, they gave their treasures. Service is a post-worship experience – service must be after worship. The worshipper must be rich in God, God must fill him to overflowing and, from that infilling and overflow, he will flow forth to God.
The lack of this is the fault of the Leaders, it is our fault. In a natural war anyone who recruits young people and sends them to the forefront of the battle is guilty of mass murder, because the enemy will massacre them.
When people are sent to serve God before they have known God, then those who sent them are responsible and guilty.
Jesus was the Son of God. He had no indwelling sin, but He prepared for thirty years for a ministry of three and a half years. For how long do we prepare? It must be the overflow of God, the excess that reaches others. Now we send people and no one asks, “Do you know God? How do you know Him? What proof do you have to show that you know Him?”
For the Lord Jesus, it was thirty years of preparation for three and a half years of ministry. No wonder it was so solid. His work has continued till today in ever- increasing splendour. He had prepared. Service is the overflow of keeping one’s own vineyard. There is overflow. There is nectar! There is fragrance! I can serve only to the extent to which I have spiritual reserves. I can serve to the extent to which God pours Himself through me. When a man no longer has what to give but goes on giving, he is practising corruption. The one who allows God to flow into him endlessly and continuously will have a limitless ministry. We must get people to build their relationship with God and begin to overflow before they can be sent to serve. Only the overflow of being filled must be given out. When there is no more abundance a man must stop. Since we send people out to go and impart the knowledge of God, if they do not know God, they are not qualified to be sent out. Where a man’s inward knowledge ends, there his service also ends. Henceforth, service must be the overflow of God. Make service this year an overflow of God. For those who will do so, not to withdraw for three days alone with God each month is a crime, and those in the ministry of prayer must take more than three days each month to withdraw into God’s presence alone! The normal pattern should be service followed by rest for refilling, then further service followed by rest and further refilling, and so on. Could it be that it is time for you to withdraw and give yourself to the intense seeking of God for about a month or two, before you come back before men? Those who want to serve tomorrow must withdraw to seek God now. Those who want to minister in the future must specialize in seeking God today, so that they can build reserves and their ministry can be an overflow of wealth.