Driven or Led?
It was not too long ago that a friend of mine asked me the question “How shall I pray for you?” How do you answer that? My answer was that I was learning how to rest in the Lord. That seemed so at odds with the “Purpose Driven” mentality of the day. I mean to say, we are measured in this world by what we do, rather than who we are. This worldly concept has crept into the way we do ministry in the body of Christ. I can say after 30 years of serving from one purpose to another, it has left me empty of anything Jesus would consider valuable. I was indeed a driven man, but I am afraid, I was not led into what was truly most valuable to the Lord. Yes, I helped provide food, shelter and medical supplies to some really important needs. But in the end, all I really served was my personal need to have a purpose, a very empty and selfish crown. So what was my shortfall? Where did I go wrong? This is a very humbling and personal question for me to answer.
I guess the answer lays in “What is most valuable to the Lord!” What does it mean to be led?
My first concern was how am I presenting the Gospel? Is it the Gospel of the Bible, or is it some other message?
Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)
15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
OK, the first thing, get healthy! Get right with God on His terms of repentance. Ask God for wisdom.
My next concern was the quality of the works I was doing, “were they ordained by God’s will or were they something else?
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'
23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
I think in the end, the work I did, did not produce the “stability or security” I was looking for. I had to ask myself, was stability and security my motivation, were they my functional salvation. If so, I was worshiping the wrong savior. I was worshiping the world’s perspective of Christ. I had let the world color and define who Jesus was.
Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."
So as I realize it today, I built upon many things people taught me, I trusted them and what they taught, but I neglected to build upon the foundation God provided. I neglected to build upon the Rock. I raised up a building of what appeared to be many good works, but in the end it fell and was washed away. Today, for me, a great emptiness.
Is this humbling? Yes! Is this fatal? The enemy of the gospel would like it to be. His goal is always towards discouragement, death and destruction, but no, it is not fatal!
How to Recover and Make it Count:
I guess in this, in this time together, I can find instruction and consolation in three men who came to terms with the Rock of their Salvation. Peter, Paul and Mark, a Pastor, a Missionary and a Student, all three came to understand what it was like to come to terms with “The Will of God”.
Peter, Driven by Impulse, was then led to patient action.
Paul, Driven by Effect, was then led to the perfect means.
Mark, Driven by Others, was then led to the perfect goal.
Let’s start with Pastor Peter.
Theme: Peter, Driven by Impulse, was then led to patient action.
I. Peter, His Impulsive Nature
Matthew 14:28-33 (KJV)
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Matthew 16:22-23 (KJV)
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Matthew 17:4-8 (KJV)
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
Matthew 26:31-35 (KJV)
31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
II Jesus confronts Peter’s impulsiveness
John 21:15-18 (KJV)
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
III Peter Being led
Preaches in Jerusalem
Acts 3:12-26 (KJV)
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
Preached in Samaria
Acts 8:14-17 (KJV)
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Acts 8:25 (KJV)
25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Uttermost parts of the world
Acts 10:34-43 (KJV)
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
Acts 10:44-48 (KJV)
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
So although Peter was driven by impulse, being very self-centric was then led to patient action by the Holy Spirit training him to be Christ centered. By this he had a part in seeing God’s will in Matt. 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 played out in his life. He found his life indeed built upon a Rock.
Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Acts 1:8 (KJV)
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
This story has not ended. As men and women see past themselves and see God’s will in the gospel, they are trained by the Holy Spirit to move and speak as they are led.
We Will End With Paul the Missionary & Mark the Student
Remember how these men were driven and later after the work of the Holy Spirit were then led.
· Paul, Driven by Effect, was then led to the perfect means.
· Mark, Driven by Others, was then led to the perfect goal.
The story for both these men starts on the mission trail. For that we will go to the book of Acts, and see what happens on Paul’s first missionary journey.
Acts 12:25 (KJV)
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
Acts 13:4-5 (NKJV)
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.
Acts 13:13 (NKJV)
13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.
We do not know why John Mark left off from this missionary journey; it may have been no more than his inability to journey by sea (sea sickness). He was also a young man far from home, so this may have come into play as well. So back to our story as we see Paul and Barnabas prepare to go on their second Missionary Journey.
Acts 15:36-41 (NKJV)
36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing."
37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.
38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.
39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;
40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.
41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Although Paul thought himself effective, from about the time of Acts 25 Paul is led into prison. Some would think, “Mission Complete,” but not the Holy Spirit. The best work Paul ever did, did not take place on the deck of a ship or standing in a Synagogue. It would be from the end a pen that the Holy Spirit would lead Paul into that perfect means – Letters written from the heart of God. It would be in these quiet times Paul would see how the Holy Spirit was leading John Mark. Paul’s opinion of Mark had altogether changed. Paul in writing his letters says;
2 Timothy 4:11 (KJV)
11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
Colossians 4:10 (NKJV)
10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),
Philemon 1:23-25 (NKJV)
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,
24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
I wonder if the case of John Mark was nothing more than a young man growing up. He must have looked highly upon men like Barnabas and Paul. It may have been the notion of serving these men that drove him. Ultimately when he got past Cypress and landed in Perga, the things back in Jerusalem looked more valuable, so that is where he returned. It would be at the feet of Peter that John Mark found the Holy Spirit’s goal for Mark. Mark would record Peter’s history with Jesus in the form of the Gospel of Mark. As Mark would write, we can hear the impulsively fast pace of Peter’s time with Jesus. There was always movement, ever foreword, Peter on the front line with Jesus. Paul would come to know of this writing of the Gospel by Mark and seek after it.
2 Timothy 4:11-13 (NKJV)
11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.
12 And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
13 Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come--and the books, especially the parchments.
Paul wanted to know every bit he could about people’s time with Jesus. This earliest writing of the gospel made that possible. Both Matthew in Jerusalem and Luke in Rome would use Mark’s Gospel as a skeleton to hang the flesh and bone of their record’s of the Gospel. So in a way Peter was yet that lead Apostle, who’s small rock of his confession of Christ, became that cornerstone on which we all stand on today.
Matthew 16:15-18 (NKJV)
15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
So what is the conclusion? Being driven does not typically lead to where the Holy Spirit wants you. Remember Jesus is the Good Shepherd; he knows you and loves you. I wonder if the Holy Spirit is grieved by a great many of his people being driven into useless or worldly oriented directions and leaving off the great commission of Matt. 28:18-20, this is really where our only mission and authority lay.