Jesus withdrew often … Are you, minister of God?

I feel God is teaching me, or better said re-teaching me, that as we give out a lot in the ministry, we need to redraw in order to get re-charged up, not just have a prayer time, but have a time when you receive His ministry to your own person. Sometimes what we do in ministry, we withdraw, and we do pray and read the Word, but we pray for needs in our life like for our finances, etc, needs of the ministry, needs of others, we read the Word and receive revelations to minister to others with, we worship but we do not linger long enough in God’s presence to let Him actually minister to us personally.

That usually happens because of lack of time, too much too manage, tiredness and ministry focused mindset. But we ourselves need the ministry of the Spirit, where we lie and rest in Him and let Him love us, let Him touch our heart, let Him soften our heart, let Him bring peace where there is stress from ministry and life, we let Him bring rest, we let Him infuse us with strength, let Him impart His life into us, His peace that passes understanding. When you have little kids, lots of responsibilities screaming at you to deal with, and you are constantly on the run, though you might pray for some time in the morning, sometimes tired, sometimes distracted by children, sometimes worshiping on the run in the car, it’s not the same as been in His rest.

I feel He is saying to me that ministry offers great temptations of busyness, but we need to fight for that place of rest and that time to withdraw away from everything, just with the Father, not to pray for needs or anything, just to sit on His operation table so to speak and let His Spirit move over us and do what He feels we need, let Him tell us that He loves us, we are valuable to Him for who we are, let Him take our stress, our tiredness, our worries, our burdens and just infuse restoration into us! I have done that in part in the last year, and had great times with God, but not as much as He wanted me to, because I got trapped in the busyness of ministry, which is so easy to do.

He told me that even when I go to live in the Philippines, the temptation will be to do so much, as people are so ready and you want to reach as many as possible. But I need to resist the temptation to just act and make sure I spend long enough with Him till I am ministered to by Him and filled with the Spirit. I am done with ministry busyness and allowing it to overwhelm me and pressure me. Jesus sent the disciples away to rest in the mist of the heaviest ministry season, then the Bible says that they did not even have time to eat because great crowds were pressing in. Jesus took care of the crowds Himself.

We need to do just that, trust God with the crowds looking for our time and go away even in the mist of a busy season – and I should say, even more than – to make sure we receive personal restoration ourselves. We need to trust God that He will take care of the ministry when we need to get re-fueled. I have had 2 burnouts before and I never saw the ministry fall apart, God always looked after it and it went ahead even though I thought that if I was not there to hold everything together, everything will fall apart. Well, God humbled me and showed me He can run His own Kingdom very well without me, I am not that indispensable.

I know ministry can be very intense and we can see in the example of the apostle Paul that he said sometimes they even despaired of life – been there. But I want to be careful that I walk with God so close, and if He tells me to withdraw in the busiest time, I will and not think that things will fall apart if I am not there. I want to trust God to that level, where I serve Him in ministry and I don’t become a servant of the ministry itself.

If you don’t get enough of personal ministry from the Holy Spirit and you give and give and give, tiredness can settle in and the devil will be more than glad to pounce on that and attack you in your weakest areas in order to destroy you. A lot of the men that fell away in recent years – I was told by the my former pastor who was the president of the AOG national Bible school – have first departed from their life source, time with God and gave themselves tirelessly to the ministry and then they were on a slippery slope. That’s the recipe for giving yourself into the hands of the devil.

There are only a handful of instances in the New Testament that speak of Jesus being in a hard time, either through tiredness or crisis. But how did he react to those times? First, his cousin John the Baptist died, the Bible says He withdrew to a quiet place to be with God. He was tired from ministry, He slept (in the boat). He was pushed by people to become their natural king, He ran and withdrew with God in the mist of that temptation. He faced the need to die for the sins of men, He prayed even harder. He often withdrew early in the morning to be with God, sometimes praying all night. When Jesus had to make major decisions, like appointing the next generation of leaders, what did He do? Go aside and pray all night. Do you see the pattern?

In general, He prayed about any temptations to sin:
‘While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.’
It obviously death was not natural death, cause He was not saved from that, He was saved from spiritual death. So when in crisis of potential falling into sin, He cried with loud cry and tears to be saved from spiritual death – it gives us an example of what we are meant to do.

You can give yourself in the hands of the devil, even while in ministry, by keeping on pushing on, without withdrawing enough. Once tiredness sets in deeply, the mind tends to not be as pozitive, can’t even think very clearly at times. The devil is always prowling about Christians, especially those in ministry, to find an opportune time to hit them. It says in the Bible that ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him UNTIL AN OPPORTUNE TIME.” So, even with us, He seeks an opportune time, and we are fools if we give him that opportunity by running ourselves in the ground and not withdrawing enough to get restored regularly. He will pounce on us like a lion ready to devour and only God’s grace will be able to hold us.

We are not in control when crisis of any kind hits are lives and if then we are found weak because of overdoing things, getting tired and not withdrawing enough, then we can be caught in a weak spot, too weak to resist the enemy. It’s vital that we don’t get there if we are to last the long run in victory.

And time with God for those who minister can still become very focused on ministry without them realizing, instead of receiving spiritual, emotional, mental and even physical sustenance from the Father.

I remember in Romania, while pastoring, my first priority was connecting with God for 3 hours every day. I did not do anything else for the beginning of the day. I gave the first fruits of my day to God, as a way to honor Him and put Him first in everything. The sum of my time equals my life, so giving Him the first of my time equals putting Him first in my life.

I also fasted 3 days a week on water for 8 months straight once. I gave priority to my spiritual preparation before giving out. I prayed in tongues all day as much as possible. I always kept worship around in the house or Bible tapes or Bible teaching on. I watched over my lips carefully to only speak words of life and not sin with my mouth and abided in God throughout the day, constantly having my spiritual antennas up to see what He might want to say to me next and talked to Him all day. I was careful to follow the lead of His Spirit without delay and adjust and allow Him to disturb my day and my plans and do what He said. I would ask Him every morning to show me if there is something in particular He wants me to do that day, and wait on Him in quieteness for quite a while till I heard something, even if it was a simple thing like call someone and tell them something.
I had my time with Him from 6 am till 9 am, never disturbed. I always had an unrushed time with Him, started with thanksgiving, praise, worship till I was in a place of awe and still in His presence. In that place, I would wait again unrushed and hear His voice so clearly. He ministered to my soul – cause I gave Him the time to do so, I was still long enough before Him. Then I would pray in tongues and ask Him to lead me what to pray for and He would put various things on my heart and it would flow for hours. Time goes so fast when you are led by the Spirit in prayer and you don’t just let your mind lead you.

I would sit still enough in His Word to hear His heart through it and take enough time to respond deeply from my heart, the Word was about me receiving as well about giving to others, but the priority was to hear Him speak to me.

If I had free time to myself in the evenings, I many times would just read a Christian book, listen to a sermon, feed myself or just spend time with God, sometimes I just sang and sang and sang and just enjoyed Him and enjoyed Him and I never wanted to leave that place and just did it for pure pleasure till I remember once He just literally came into the room and showed Himself to me in an open eye vision and spoke to me.

I did not care about missing out on anything else in ‘life’, like other fun and entertainment, I had life Himself there. I did not need much more than Him to be happy, Him and doing His will was enough for me. Not that I never had fun, but it was not a priority, time with Him was, it did me much more good than just fun, it caused me so much satisfaction, so much peace and joy that that in itself was very good for my body and mind, more than all fun could do it all its forms.

And then I would come out of that engine room of God full of a spirit of faith, victory, I felt I was invincible almost, I was sooo full of joy, faith, victory and freedom in my spirit, I felt I was soaring above everything that was happening in the ministry, and trust me when you pastor, lots of painful and unpleasant and discouraging things can happen. But God’s Spirit did such a work in me.

BUT, then I did not have much responsibility. I did not have children to wake me up at night, to disturb me early in the morning from my prayer time or to require early readiness for school. I did not have a business to run like the property management now and somehow life was less complicated. I had more energy too, the Spirit of God was partly responsible for that, He gave me so much strength just by filling my soul with joy, peace, rest, it makes a huge difference to your body.

Ministry to around 50 to 100 people was demanding, but at least they all went home after a while and I had time to myself. Family life with raising children is not quite the same, it’s 24/7. Now my ministry has extended to beautiful kids as well and God has entrusted me with so much more, but can He trust me to still come long enough to Him to linger in His presence so He can infuse me like He did in the past? Can I withdraw enough and be willing to let some things go and do less so I can get the vital touch of His Spirit for long enough to be the same giant in spirit that I used to be?

Over time, with life changing and many responsibilities and busyness increasing, some of the above things that made me super strong and invincible almost, have slipped through and could not quite be done as before. Even ministry can deceive you into doing too much and sometimes people put pressure on you as well to give more and give more and give more. We need to be so connected to God to know how much to give and when to say no, regardless of how much good we think we can do or others think we can do. We can really only do as much good as the Spirit of God is moving through us, the rest is fluff and chasing after the wind, wood, hay and stubble, no matter how good it looks on the outside. And when you do the things that God want you to do, you can also feel quite satisfied and charged by it, but when you do things He did not ask, you will feel no grace to strengthen you through it.

Yet, with all the challenges of life, I am determined, to fight to maintain that special, awesome, life giving lingering in His presence, not to hear about what to minister to others, not to pray even for my problems, but just to be with Him and let Him do to me what I need. To give me peace, if that’s what I need, to give me strength if that’s what I need, to give me rest or to love me. In that place nothing is impossible, nothing is too difficult, nothing is too hopeless, when you and God are together, there is nothing you cannot be and cannot do. And it all comes from being with Jesus.

People knew that the apostles have been with Jesus, because they were different, unlearnt men who stood up to leaders of society with great courage. That’s how you come out of that secret place where God ministers in and upon you. Like a lion that can face anything. And that’s how God intended us to live, anything less is living in less than the best He has for us.

Many people read Revelation where it says that the church has lost their first love. But if you read carefully, Jesus gives the recipe on HOW to return back to it. It says: “REMEMBER from where you have fallen, and repent and DO THE DEEDS YOU DID AT FIRST”
If you observe here, it all comes down to deeds you did at first, it’s actions done on a daily basis, habits, attitudes, focus of the heart.

If you want to turn back to the first love, then ask yourself:

What were the deeds you did when you were on fire and in deep love with Jesus?
What did you do every day that was different from now?
What were you careful to maintain or not to do at that time?
What was the focus in your mind and heart?
What mattered most to you?
What were your habits?

You need to sit down and be diligent and actually do the homework answering this questions in detail.

Then compare that with what you are doing now:

What are you omitting now?
What distractions have filled your life that you could do without?
What is vying for the focus of your heart and mind?
What habits did you loose?
What can you do to return to the same attitudes and focus of heart?
How can you put that in your daily calendar?
What needs to go out of your calendar?
What needs to adjust in your life?

The Revelation passage about loosing your first love fits so well people in ministry, just listen to the description:

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.…”

Sounds pretty familiar to what people do in ministry – toil, perseverance, dealing with error in the church, endurance and lots of work.

God is appreciating people in ministry for all their toil, perseverance through trials, dealing with people and error, for their enduring and not giving up … that’s ministry … just read apostle Paul’s list, a never ending long list of difficult things and hard work.

But God is saying, as you do all those commendable things, I see you have dropped something essential, receiving ministry from Me. Yes, I know you still come to pray, but it’s not to receive from Me for yourself, but to solve your ministry problems and life problems. I know you still read the Word but the focus is to get a new revelation that you can share with others I want to speak to you more from the Word about and from My heart to you! I want to fellowship unrushed with you … to be long enough with you to have a long lasting effect on you that will give you such wings to soar that you can rise above everything that comes your way.
That’s what Paul said by: I labor, yet not I, but the grace of God – the grace that gets infused from that place of lingering in God’s presence.

What decision are you going to take today? Will you withdraw often to be with your ‘Life’ or will you let the ministry turn you into its servant and allow yourself to be weakened by its demands that the devil can use that against you? Will you be wise as Jesus, be more with Him and do less, yet be more victorious and more of a true representative of Jesus? It’s your choice: life or death. Be wise, choose ‘Life’.

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About Marilena Fackerell

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